People always ask, “What’s your baby’s name?”
“Micah,” I respond.
“Awww…I love that name. So cute! What’s his middle name?”
“Masato” I say, clearly.
“Masa– what?” People quickly retort, with a sort of what kind of name is that glare.
“Ma-sa-to” I reply. “It’s Japanese.”
“Japanese!? Interesting. What does it mean?”
“It can mean ‘righteous person.'”
That’s the typical conversation about Micah’s middle name. I understand. Americans can name their kids whatever they want. And they do. Think about celebrity’s kids: Apple. Suri. Story. Sunday.
And other people I know are creative with their own names for their children. Some friends of our recently named their child after the park they often spent dates at.
With a foreign middle name people seem to treat it a bit differently. For some reason they want to know what it means right away. No one ever asks what Micah means. (It means “Who is like [God]?” for those of you who are wondering.)
But naming our son was very intentional and important to us. We did so with much deliberation.
We named him Micah because of what we want him to live like. Micah was a prophet during the time of the Old Testament. There is a small book written by him in the Bible. (I’ve written a couple blog posts about this passage.) In this passage the people are disobedient before God and God kind of calls them out on it. It’s somewhat like a courtroom scene. God calls the mountains and the foundations of the earth as witnesses to his own character and then calls the people to the stand for their iniquities. They respond somewhat sarcastically asking God what it would take to please him? Rivers of oil? Our firstborn son, even? But the prophet Micah steps into the scene and tells the people that they should know what the Lord requires of them. It is to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly before their God. That is what the Lord requires of them, and they should have known it.
Sarah and I want Micah to be a boy who grows up desiring to do justly. We want him to want to treat others justly and to care about justice. We want him to love mercy. We desire for him to not only treat others with mercy, but to LOVE doing so – to be a merciful young man. We also want him to be a man of humility. We want him to walk before God in sincerity and humility – not haughty and proud, full of himself.
We gave him a Japanese middle name because he will spend most of his childhood in Japan. We are going to be missionaries in Japan and we wanted to give him the option of using a Japanese name if he wanted. He’ll never fit in completely because he’ll be American and white, but he might choose to want to fit it better with a Japanese name. One less thing to have to deal with. We wanted it to be a somewhat popular name, one that people would recognize. And Masato has been a pretty popular name the last few years. It also can mean “just person” or “holy person” which we feel fits why we named him Micah, too.
So that is why his middle name is Masato. For those of you wondering how to pronounce it, don’t put the emphasis on the second syllable, like you are probably naturally wanting to do. Technically there is no strong emphasis on any of the syllables. They are even. Mah-Sah-Toh is how it is pronounced.
So there you go. 🙂