A Good Name
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“A Good Name,” Friend, Feb. 1995, 11

A Good Name

Rejoice, because your names are written in heaven (Luke 10:20).

“Ashley, would you please read Helaman 5:6–7?” [Hel. 5:6–7] Sister Robins asked. Ashley quickly opened her Book of Mormon, found the passage, and read: “‘Behold, my sons, … I have given unto you the names of our first parents who came out of the land of Jerusalem; and this I have done that when you remember your names ye may remember them; and when ye remember them ye may remember their works; and when ye remember their works ye may know how that it is said, and also written, that they were good.

“‘Therefore, my sons, I would that ye should do that which is good, that it may be said of you, and also written, even as it has been said and written of them.’”

“Thank you, Ashley,” Sister Robins said. “In this scripture, this prophet Nephi—he lived just a few years before Christ was born—is telling his sons, Nephi and Lehi, why he gave them their names. Can anyone tell me why?”

“Because Nephi wanted his children to remember what good things the first Nephi and Lehi had done,” Emily answered.

Ashley thought about the things she had read in 1 Nephi: Lehi listened to the Lord and left Jerusalem. Nephi obeyed his father and returned for the brass plates, and he built a ship, and preached to his brothers, and—

“And then they would do good things, too, and be righteous, too,” Samuel’s comment broke into her thoughts.

“That’s right,” Sister Robins said. “Names can sometimes help us choose the right. My first name is Camilla. My parents named me after the wife of one of our prophets, President Spencer W. Kimball. She was a wonderful woman who spent her entire life serving other people and building up the kingdom of God. I always remember her because of my name. It makes me want to obey the Lord and serve other people as she did. Are any of you named for a special person?”

“I was named for Daniel in the lions’ den,” Danny said.

“I was named for my great-great-grandmother who crossed the plains,” said Emily.

Ashley shut her Book of Mormon and sat back in her chair. What about my name? Where does it come from? It isn’t in the Bible or the Book of Mormon. She couldn’t think of anyone in her family with her name.

She asked about it on the way home from church. “Mom, why did you and Dad name me Ashley?”

“We just thought it was a beautiful name, and you were such a beautiful baby girl that the name fit.”

“My name’s not in the scriptures, is it?”

“No, it isn’t, dear.”

“Is there anyone in our family, like a great-great-grandmother, whose name was Ashley?”

“No, I don’t think so. It’s just a pretty name,” Mom answered.

Dad asked, “Don’t you like your name, honey?”

Ashley mumbled an “Oh, yes. It is pretty.” But she thought, Pretty is not enough—there’s nothing special about it to remind me to be good. She thought about her sister’s and brother’s names. Rachel’s name is in the Bible. And Brian’s named after Dad. Her eyes filled with tears. Why was I left out?

That night as she was lying in bed, Ashley thought about it again. It isn’t fair! I want a name that means something special. I know—I’ll change my name! She grabbed her writing tablet and a pencil. She said them aloud as she listed possibilities: “Elizabeth, Mary, Rebecca, Sarah. And Grandma’s name is Emma Jane.”

A knock came at the open door, and Mom asked to come in. She glanced at the tablet in her daughter’s lap. “What’s this, Ashley? Are you really upset about your name? Why, honey?”

“In Primary, we read about the Nephi and Lehi who were named after the first Nephi and Lehi, who were great prophets. Danny was named for a famous prophet too. Emily was named for her great-great-grandmother, who was a pioneer. Rachel was named for the woman Jacob worked seven years to get to marry. And Brian was named after Dad. Why didn’t I get a good name?”

Mom reached over and smoothed Ashley’s ruffled bangs. “You did get a good name. Don’t you know that?” She paused and looked at Ashley’s list. “Were you thinking of changing your name to one of these?”

“Yes. They were all great women.”

“Well, what do you think made them great?” Ashley thought for a minute.

“They were great because they were righteous people and served others.”

“Do you think their names made them great—or did they make their names great? Look at King Noah in the Book of Mormon. Although he had the same name as one of the greatest Old Testament prophets, he was a very wicked man. The people we admire made their names great by the kind of people they were.”

Mom pointed at the list. “These names were all probably held by other people before the ones who made them notable. And in Helaman, after Nephi told his sons that he gave them their names so that they would remember the first Lehi and Nephi and the good that they did, what did he say next?”

“He said that he wanted his sons to do good, too, so that when other people talked about them, it would be about the good they—his sons—did.”

Mom smiled. “Well, what do you want people to think when they hear your name?”

“I want them to think that I’m a nice person and that I try to do what’s right.”

“I want them to think that too. It’s nice sometimes when we are named for great people, but it’s more important that we make the name we have great. Just think—you have a brand new name to make great!”

“And maybe when people hear my name, they’ll remember that I’m a good person.”

“One more thing, Ashley. All of us who have been baptized have a special name. We say that we take this name upon us, which means that we choose to be named after and try to be like this person. Do you know what name I’m talking about?”

“Yes—it’s Jesus Christ.”

“So, if you want a name that will remind you to be good, just remember his name. Will that help?”

“Yes—I feel much better. Thanks, Mom.”

As her mom leaned over to turn off the lamp, Ashley crumpled the list of names and dropped it into the wastebasket.

Illustrated by Shauna Mooney Kawasaki

Painting by Arnold Friberg

Paintings by Del Parson