Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How Do You Know My Name?...

(photo from
I was not very good at introducing myself. In school, I was a band geek. Granted, I was a drummer and that made you band geek royalty, but still a geek. I wasn't the loud, outgoing type that I have morphed into over the last decade or so. I was fairly quiet, and fairly reserved outside of my circle, so it might have been kind of easy to look over me in school. Not so much now. I'm extroverted to the max now. I have no problem walking right up to anyone and introducing myself, and usually, when I'm in a room folks know it. I don't know what happened. Maybe it was the whole "Moses Complex" that I had to overcome, "But God, I can't lead your people, I'm slow of speech..." At least that was what he tried to pull.

Since I wasn't very good at introducing myself, there probably weren't a lot of folks who actually knew my name, outside of my circle. I was the guy that played the quads, the one making all of that noise. I actually was asked to leave a district tournament at Ballard County because I was so loud, but the guy that tried to kick me out never one time asked my name.

Names are important. When you know someone's name, you hold a certain amount of power. Especially middle names. Darren... When I was in trouble as a kid, I got "JAMES DARREN!" When I heard that, I knew I had messed up. We're very protective of our middles names for some reason, maybe that's another discussion for another day, but not today. Today, first names are all we need.

A couple years ago, I was in Walmart one day and walked past two elderly ladies. One of them looked at me and said, and I quote, "You just never speak anymore," and then called me by name. I had NO CLUE who she was. I just said, "You'll have to forgive me, but your name has left me." She never did give me her name, just that she was a friend of one of my church members and had been to my church...ONCE. Names are powerful, and I couldn't remember hers. In fact, I'm not sure that I ever had her name to forget.

Two weeks ago I was in the southside McDonald's checking email and drinking a cup of very mediocre coffee. I got finished with what I was doing, got up, and started walking out. I met a lady at the door, held the door for her like my daddy taught me to do, and she looked up and said, "Hi Jamie!" I granted her a cordial "Good morning, how are you?" but I have no recollection of ever seeing her before. Names are powerful. I was in a rush or I would have stuck around to find out a little more about her; like where we had met, how we knew each other, those kind of things. Names are powerful. Calling someone by name is even more powerful.

"Mary." That was all he said. She was torn all to pieces at the moment. He had been murdered by the empire, very hastily buried in a borrowed tomb so that Jewish law wouldn't be broken, and now she had come to finish what Joseph and Nicodemus had started a couple nights before. But when she got there, he was gone.

She thought he was just he gardener when he first spoke, so there evidently wasn't anything very special about his voice. He had spoken two whole sentences to her before, but that one word got her. "Mary." Her name. He called her by name, and that was when she recognized him. Of all of the accounts we have of the resurrection, for me, this one in John is the most tender.

He could tell she was hurting. He knew she was confused. He could see that she was crying, but she couldn't see him...yet. And then, "Mary." One word...her name. Speaking her name at that moment in her life changed everything. John says "She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, 'Rabboni!' (which means Teacher.)" Only after hearing him speak her name did she recognize who he was.

Do you see how powerful it can be when we take time to learn someone's name? Those two examples I mentioned earlier are just two out of many. People are always coming up to me, calling me by name, but their name leaves me. Maybe if I worked a little harder at it. Maybe being able to call them by name would let them know that someone actually cares what happens to them. I don't know, but I do know that it couldn't hurt.


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