I’m named after my great grandmother on my dad’s side. While her birth certificate says “Vita Volpe,” she was always known as Rita. We don’t fully know how/why that one letter changed - and to this day I’m not sure how I feel about the alternative scenario in which my name is Vita instead of Rita...I’d probably be for it though!
While the ancestral history of my name remains a bit of a mystery, in the last few months the meaning of my name has become clearer. I always knew that Rita meant “pearl” - what I don’t know is why that word repulsed me a little. Do you remember those cards you’d see in Christian bookstores? The ones that have a name on it, with the meaning and a scripture? I don’t know why, upon finding the card with my name and seeing the word “pearl,” I felt like it was all a little...cheesy? Even though I think pearls are beautiful, there was something about my name meaning some piece of jewelry that turned me off. Until a few months ago…
In my holy hour one day, I was praying with the story of the hemorrhaging woman. I was struck that her name isn’t recorded in scripture. I started to get a little frustrated by that, when the Lord in His gentleness spoke in my heart that He knows her name. She isn’t some nameless or unknown woman. She has a name, and He knows it.
And I sensed that, in telling me that He knew her name, He was assuring me that He knew mine as well. Rita...pearl. I knew He wanted me to let go of this mysterious repulsion to the meaning of my name. So, right there in the middle of my holy hour, I started googling pearls - how were they made? I think I’d heard something about sand inside of oysters?
Thanks to this National Geographic video, I learned that the sand thing isn’t the whole story. Simply put, a pearl is the result of the oyster’s defense system - when there is a disruption to the membrane of the oyster (by any organism), the oyster releases a crystalline substance that, over several years, becomes this rare, valuable gem known as a pearl.
As I asked the Lord to connect the dots in my heart between this word - pearl - that gives my name meaning, and what He is speaking over my life, He gave me these words: Beauty from chaos. This beautiful gem is the response of the oyster to disruption. Its response to chaos produces beauty.
Is that how I live my life? When chaos or disruption happens, is my response one that bears fruit? When a pandemic hits and disrupts almost every aspect of my life, is my response to cling to Him who is making something beautiful? If I’m being honest, sometimes my response to disruption feels like endless chaos and anxiety.
But I know that He is making something new. Something beautiful. Something rare and valuable. He’s forming me, shaping me - even when I don’t realize it or feel it. I’m still unpacking this revelation that the Lord is giving me about my name. My name is important - God speaks my name, and He speaks to me through my name.
He is calling you, friend - by name. Whether your name has some hidden, cool meaning or not - your name means something because He calls you by it. Your name is on His mind, His heart, and His lips. I’m praying for us all today as we lean in and quiet ourselves to hear our names spoken by Him.
We are beyond blessed with an amazing community of teens, young adults, priests, consecrated men and women, and families who are striving to live out Christ's invitation to authentic love and who have gifts to share their journeys through writing.