My Name Is Nana, But You Can Call Me Papa

My folks used to live in a condo not too far from where we grew up. The residents were a quirky mix of people that were friendly but distant.

imagesUpstairs was an older lady who always made me grin. The way she’d introduce herself never made sense to me.

“My name is Helen, but you can call me Nadine.”

I didn’t know if “Nadine” was the name she’d secretly wanted her whole life. If the name “Helen” offended her sense of appropriateness for who she was as a person. Or maybe it was another personality she had for times when she was lonely.

Huck organizes his mess.
Huck organizes his mess.

These past two weeks, I got a little taste of her dilemma.

I spent close to two weeks in Austin helping my daughter-in-law with our eighteen-month-old grandson. She’d gone into premature labor and needed bed rest.

Or close to it.

John was there for the first few days. Huck got the fact that John was Papa. I thought he knew I was Nana.

I can’t blame the child for being confused. His other Papa and Nana had just been there weeks before. Now two interlopers show up with the same names.

Shortly after John left, I noticed Huck was calling me Papa. It was funny, so I laughed and corrected him.

Mark and Jillian caught on that he was confusing the names. They corrected him.

The happy threesome--soon to be four.
The happy threesome–soon to be four.

It didn’t seem to make much of a difference. He kept calling me Papa.

I began to refer to myself as Papa. Or PapaNana, or NanaPapa.

Names are labels we give to people to help us grasp the bigger picture of who they are. To better define them. Their brand, so to speak. Mark and Jillian talked about the name they’ll give their next little boy–they’re not telling anyone till he’s born. It led to a conversation about what names mean. How we grow into our names through our life experiences.

Cultures put value on names. Families carry on names to honor those they love. Our integrity and honor as individuals is grounded in our names. We want our names associated with the positive things we do, with the pursuit of what’s good about us.

What does the name “Jesus” bring to mind?

There are a lot of answers to this. As a Jesus follower, I see Him as Almighty God, Savior, my Hope and Strength. And so much more.

People who don’t believe in His deity try to pass Him off as a good Teacher. A great Example. An incredible Prophet. C.S. Lewis said Jesus didn’t leave those options open to us.

He claimed to be God. Creator God. Sustainer God. Almighty God.images-1

He’s either lying through His teeth, is crazy as a loon for making such huge claims.

Or He is who He says He is.


I can handle being called Papa. Huck’s heart is seeing someone who loves him, who’s there for him.


His name is a statement of truth. He is. The Name above all names. The Name at which, some day, every knee will bow in worship.

Take my word for it.

You can trust a NanaPapa.








4 responses to “My Name Is Nana, But You Can Call Me Papa”

  1. Well done, Papa!!!! Love you so much. And so grateful for how God loved us, even when we didn’t know His name or acknowledge Him for who He is. And He still does, even when we call Him names….yep, been there, done that.


    1. Love you, Pen. Being loved by the One who loves best is no small thing. I’m truly grateful. As I know you are.


  2. Dayle, I could handle being called NANA PAPA in Love – like Huck. BUT JESUS – IS the NAME ABOVE ALL NAMES!!! [I’ll take YOUR word for that ONE!]


    1. He is who He is! Loving us, knowing us, keeping us. It doesn’t get any better, Lo.


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