I shared a couple weeks ago just how we stumbled into the process we use for choosing names for our children. Most people know that our kids have unusual names and most people know that their meanings are particularly important to us, but most people haven’t heard the whole back story. If you missed it the first time, go check it out.
I shared that after more than a dozen different people, in unrelated times and places all prayed the words “prophet” and “worshiper” over our first baby, we decided that we should sit up and take notice. Maybe this was something God wanted to say about this kiddo. We felt like our extended families had most of the good prophet names covered (some of them multiple times). So we decided to focus our search on the “worshipper” aspect.
We started with an off-the-shelf baby name book and found… nothing. So we bought a Christian baby name book that came a lot closer and had some great other suggestions, but still didn’t quite have what we were looking for. (It’s still a resource we go back to each time looking for ideas, though, if you are looking for a good jumping-off point.) So we did what any other good tech-generation parents-to-be would do: we went to Google.
Turns out, there are a lot of names in other religious cultures that mean worshiper – namely Muslim, Sanskrit, or Hindu. Again, that wasn’t quite what we were going for. Finally, after months of varying search terms, following links, digging through lists, and following all sorts of internet rabbit trails through background stories, we stumbled on an old Russian name that meant “Worshiper of God”: Gavrel. I’ll admit that Jon was much more strongly attracted to it than I was at first. But the more I sat on it and prayed, the more right it seemed. There were other names I liked the sound of better, but they just didn’t belong to this child.
It really clicked for me when Jon approached me one night with another idea. “I know you don’t necessarily want to use family names, but I have one I’ve been thinking about that I would really like to at least consider using.” Ok? “Lagersen. It’s my grandpa’s middle name. It was his mother’s maiden name.” Jon’s grandpa was a medical missionary to Hong Kong, founding a hospital there. I didn’t want to use family names because I didn’t want something that had been repeated over and over, but this name seemed to subtly pay tribute to someone who had taken the name of Jesus to the nations – a specific prayer over our baby – without being a standard “prophet” name. When I said it aloud together, I knew it was right:
Gavrel Lagersen. Our worshiper prophet to the nations.
It’s a big name. When he was born, people didn’t understand – they asked what we would call him, assuming we had a much more familiar nickname picked out. But we just call him Gavrel. He knows, even at a young age, what his name means and why we chose it. And we pray that it’s a legacy he can continue to grow into.