Thursday, July 19, 2018

Called By Name

I stopped by Walgreens during my lunch hour yesterday, because where else in the world can you buy a pack of 8 soft-baked cookies for $1? Anyways, as I finished checking out, the cashier, a middle-age woman named Kathy, handed me my receipt and kindly said, “Thank you, Amanda.”

It was the simplest gesture, but it took me by surprise, rendering me frozen for what was most certainly, and most awkwardly, too long. “She knows my name,” I thought, as I stood there not taking the receipt from this woman. Forgetting that my name and information would have flashed upon her screen after I swiped my debit card to pay for the aforementioned $1 cookies, it really was a sweet moment that I have continued to think about. I’m sure that Kathy probably thanks all of her customers by name, but there was a sincerity about her that truly made me feel like a unique individual and not just another customer in line. 

When I got back to my office, I made a conscious effort to learn the names of the students and prospective students who stopped by the One Stop Center. Not that I wanted to conduct an experiment (I definitely wanted to conduct an experiment) to see how differently people respond when they feel known by their actual name instead of the labels that we assign to them, but the results were amazing. I’m convinced that there’s something great that happens whenever we slow down enough to make connections with those that we interact with. I’m also convinced that even more than most of the things that people want in life, a sense of being known and seen ranks high.

We could all just take this as a lesson on good customer service and move on, but I can’t help but be reminded that someone else knows my name. Someone else knows your name. Someone else knows the name of the man who sits alone under an overpass in the heat of the summer. Someone else knows the name of the girl who has been treated badly for years, being called many names, but never her own. Someone else knows the name of the child who waits for the day that they can answer to another name as “son” or “daughter.” Someone else knows the name of the bully at school, the grown-up version of the bully at school, the world’s cruelest criminal, your sweet grandmother, your neighbor who’s name you don’t even know, your cashier at Walgreens, and the name of every human being who has ever lived or will live in this world. The God of the universe knows my name. He knows my name!

Scripture tells us that God knew us before we were ever formed. It is mentioned in various places how He calls us by name and how we are His. Even more, He knows literally everything about us, even the things that we don’t know yet, and He still desires for us to reside within His presence moment by moment, every single day. What an incomprehensible devotion! When I consider how He knows my name, it becomes easier to lose the made up names that I give myself and the ones that the world gives me. Being made in His image, in the image of a God who calls me by name, I can replace all of the untrue names that have been assigned to me with ones that He has given me. I can take on names like Victorious, Redeemed, Blessed, Chosen, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, Overcomer, Loved, and Precious In His Sight. So, when Satan, The Father of Lies, tries to distance us from God, The Father of Light, by stealing our confidence and replacing our God-given names with names like- Failure, Not Good Enough, Unredeemable, Rejected, Ugly…the list goes on, it’s important to remember that He is literally full of it. 

The Ultimate Accuser might constantly make it hard for us to live in The Light, but he won’t win. My God has already taken care of that. How sweet it is to be known, called, and treasured by a God who fights for us consistently and constantly! May we all seek to make connections and genuinely know the people around us by name in such a way that our interactions reflect back to The Name Above All Names.