"What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet...."
How about it? Do you agree with Shakespeare and the quote above from Romeo and Juliet? It's true that roses would smell just as lovely if they were called something else, but when it comes to people, names are extremely important.
Think about how many television reporters and politicians have been ridiculed for an incorrect pronunciation of someone's name, even though the majority of people would also have trouble with it if they just saw it and hadn't heard it before.
My name is important to me. Robyn. I love that my parents chose to spell my name with a "y," even though I need to clarify that when I'm giving info to someone. I always feel the tiniest twinge of sadness when I get a card or email from someone and it's addressed to "Robin." I brush it aside and I honestly don't hold any grudges about it, but there's this little thought every time: They don't really know me.
That's why I'm pretty careful about spelling people's names correctly. I know it can hurt a little when names are misspelled.
Even worse is when we call someone by the wrong name entirely. If your name is Eileen or Elaine, you may not hear me say your name very often because my brain refuses to keep them straight. I've resorted to picturing the secretary at school leaning at a 45 degree angle so I can call her "Eileen" as I should. I picture the Elaines I know screaming "Eeeeeee" so I can remember them. Sometimes that doesn't even work.
The other day I was in a grocery store and I saw a friend from church. I smiled and said hi, but my mind couldn't come up with her name for some reason. Wessels, I thought. Yes, that's right. Her husband is Gerald. Her name? Blank. We chatted for a minute and then I mumbled, "Bye Wanda."
I got exactly one aisle away and started kicking myself. Wanda? It's Karen! How could you call her Wanda? Maybe she didn't hear you. But what if she did? I picked up a couple of items, but when I saw her again at the checkout, I asked, "Did you hear me call you Wanda?" Of course she didn't, but we had a good laugh about it and I made sure to call her Karen a couple of times for good measure. I knew her name, but our brains malfunction at times so we all have to cut each other a little slack.
Aren't you glad there's one person who always knows your name? He knew you before you were created in your mother's womb. He knows exactly how your name is spelled and he'll never forget and call you by the wrong name.
Francesca Battistelli has a song on her newest album called "He Knows My Name." It's a wonderful reminder that we don't have to worry about everyone here on earth knowing our name. We don't have to be famous. God loves us and knows us completely. That thought can give us comfort and confidence when we might be feeling lonely or misunderstood. Try to brush aside the disappointment with not being known here on earth and draw on the joy of being known, completely, by the God of the universe. He knows your name!
Oh, and if you aren't sure of someone's name when you see them around town, don't take a wild guess. Just smile and say, "It's so good to see you!" Right, Wanda?
"Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine." (Isaiah 43:1b NIV)
Do you have trouble remembering names? How can remembering that God knows your name help you to live more joyfully and confidently?