What's in a name?

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose / By any other name would smell as sweet" (II.ii.47-48).


This line from Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most famous lines. However, it's also hogwash. Yes, hogwash.

I've been thinking a lot about the power of names. The power of speaking names. The power in the names you choose to speak. In sixth grade we're reading The Lightning Thief, where we are reminded that "Names have power" (Riordan 51). In eighth grade we're reading The Tempest, and Shakespeare always brings me back to Romeo and Juliet, the first play that I taught and the first play that I directed.

But Thursday, I encountered a name that absolutely stopped me in my tracks. Ronnie Grace. 

On December 5, 2013, Ronnie Smith, an American teacher, was shot in Benghazi. His headmaster noted that,

"He was dedicated. He always put the students first," Hodge said. "He wanted to make a difference. And he did."

He was loved because he loved. And yet he was unjustly killed.

His family grieved (and continues to grieve) the loss. But they showed grace. Ronnie's widow even expressed her love and forgiveness for his killers. That's some serious grace.

And Thursday, just over a month later, Ronnie Grace was born to Ronnie Smith's sister, Sarah. And the name Ronnie Grace... it's perfect. Any other name would not be as sweet. 

Ronnie Grace, your name inspires. Your name inspires me to live with the same dedication as your uncle. It inspires me to always put my students first and make difference, even when it's difficult.

Ronnie Grace, your name challenges. Your name challenges me to exhibit grace, even to those who wrong me and to those who wrong those I love. It reminds me of your aunt's grace. It reminds me of God's grace. A grace that I can't comprehend. It challenges me to speak grace into the names of those around me.

Ronnie Grace, your name is perfect. Your names is perfect like God's timing for you is perfect. I can't wait to hear about the woman you grow into and how God uses the story of your name to make a difference.

There's power in names. Thank you, Ronnie Grace (and the whole Smith family), for reminding me of this truth.