In Congo, names have great significance and insight into the character of an individual. Oftentimes, parents will wait weeks or months before naming a new child. For instance, the woman who cooks for our volunteer house is Mama Furaha. The Swahili translation of “furaha” is “joy”, which perfectly depicts her delightful and exuberant spirit.
When we are introduced, many Congolese inquire about the meaning of my name. After a week of responding with a puzzled and vacant stare, I channeled my inner research enthusiast and asked Jeeves. So, according to Wikipedia, “Megan” means brave, pearl, and precious. I’ll take it.
Although initially I doubted any correlation, further contemplation has revealed a deeper level of connection.
Brave: ready to endure or face unpleasant conditions or behavior without showing fear.
Not that I have already obtained such a level of bravery, but my aspirations are that this step of faith will develop courage. A bit of self-disclosure? I have felt fearful, inadequate, and incompetent to be here in Congo and serve in this way. Yet somehow I have hope for this brave new world…
Pearl, the other meaning of my name, has far greater significance in my life. The pearl is a perfect example of beauty which comes from ashes. A simple, ordinary thing such as the innards of an oyster, refined through the agitation of sand within its shell to produce a valuable jewel.
I think about my past, my story, my life and I am inspired by how God has transformed me similarly to a pearl. He has redeemed my life from the pit. Perhaps the most encouraging part of it all is that as the oyster’s shell protects the pearl from complete destruction when the harsh waves come, so God holds me in the palm of His hand and protects me as He refines me into a precious gem.
So I wonder, for those of you reading this, what does your name mean? How does this meaning have significance in your life?