and the name of the baby isn’t…
Now that many of you have struggled valiantly to discover the name of #3, you are probably wondering how in the world we came up with such a humdinger. We had a really, really difficult time choosing the name. Without giving away the name just yet, I’m going to try and trace our thought process and why we threw out a bunch of perfectly good names along the way. Please don’t take it personally if we discarded any of your favorite names!
1. MEANINGFUL. I think my (Abby’s) biggest requirement was meaning, either from an honorable namesake or from the language of origin. I also ideally wanted it to make some reference to our recent experiences with James and Dora or to the fact that this baby will one day become our oldest, without replacing our firstborn. (These kinds of life-reference names are common in the Old Testament: Reuben, meaning “see, a son,” was born after a season of barrenness; and Ichabod, meaning “the glory has departed,” was born the day the ark of God’s presence was captured.) For our situation, we had an ambitious amount of weight to pack into a name.
2. EUPHONIC. Second, we have to use a name that sounds good with Gjertsen. For me that ruled out a lot of first names ending in –on which sort of half-rhymes, like Hudson (for Hudson Taylor, the first missionary to China), or Cadmon (for Caedmon, the first English hymn writer). We pronounce Gjertsen with a silent “G,” like Jertsen, so this consideration also gave extra credit to names that contain the “j” sound for alliteration (like James).
With these considerations, at the time of the gender-revealing ultrasound, we had a name picked out. It is a good name: Jacob Li Gjertsen. Jacob (in Genesis) struggled under the shadow of his older brother Esau, thought success depended on outsmarting others, literally wrestled with God and was humbled, and gained a personal faith that extended into his old age. Many of these elements relate to our personal testimonies or to the challenge of being a “second firstborn.” Li was chosen for John’s best man, Xiaojian Li, who went home to Jesus exactly a month after James. Xiao was a man of integrity, faith, joy, love, and laughter, and I could say so many other things as well. We wanted to memorialize him somehow in the name of #3.
3. UNCOMMON. We didn’t know almost anyone else named Jacob, and I didn’t teach a lot of Jacobs, so imagine our surprise when a couple days later I discovered that Jacob has been the most popular boy name in the U.S. for the last TEN years! We could have kept it, but that was when a third naming requirement crystallized. This is just my contrary streak, but I don’t want to give my kids super-popular names. I grew up the only Abigail around, and I liked it that way (alas, those days are past). I know it doesn’t hurt anything to have a popular name, but like I said, I’m just contrary, or maybe influenced by my years of teaching kids in the same peer group (many, many Brittanys and Mikes).
4. MASCULINE. Going back to square one, we discovered how difficult it is to find any distinctively male name that isn’t pretty popular. You see, our fourth requirement was that we wanted the gender to be clear from the first name. And recently, more and more traditionally male names and family names have been co-opted by girls (e.g. Madison, Morgan, McKenzie). Even if there are only a few girls with the name, it only takes one to put permanent cooties on a formerly masculine name (witness Taylor Swift). So we ruled out gender neutral names derived from surnames, like Taylor (for Hudson Taylor again) and Piper (yes, we considered it, for John Piper).
5. RIDICULOUS. At this point we really spun out into the wild blue yonder, going through all the names in the Old Testament, Shakespeare (can you believe there are actually lists online containing Iago?), and other pieces of literature and myth. Now, it might have looked like our fifth requirement was to be wacko, but in reality we were just getting desperate. Entertaining less and less traditional names, we walked the fine line between inspired and insane. Some of you probably think we landed on the insane side, but it was not before considering, and ruling out, Hamlet, Bayard, Dante, Enoch, Jed, Boaz, Jupiter…no, none of these made it into the final two.
to be continued… Now you know you want to go do that puzzle if you haven’t, yet!