I LOVE name tags. I love having people call me by name. Maybe this is because my name has an unusual spelling, so if it’s misspelled, it doesn’t feel like my name.
I love being able to call people by name when we’re chatting. Maybe this is because I get so excited about the stories people tell I forget to remember their name, despite remembering their face, what they’re wearing, and what they’re actually telling me.
I’m the person at a conference, who proudly continues to wear my nametag along the city streets, long after we’ve left the conference hotel. It’s fun when the waiter at dinner comes around the table and says, “and now Robyn, what would you like to order?” I realize it’s not a big gesture – I’m the dope still wearing the giant nametag and lanyard from whatever church conference we’re all attending. I’m simply the only one still wearing said nametag; and I’m the only one who got called by name.
Our names are important, They mean something. Our parents spent a lot of time selecting those names – whether it was they wanted something completely different from your family, or they wanted you to carry on a family name, Your. Name. Matters. So when we take the time to say someone’s name, to look you in the eye and speak your name, there’s a small moment, where you feel seen. You feel heard and noticed in ways that we don’t normally feel.
I recently had the opportunity to be one of those people, holding a sign with a name on it. I was picking up a person from the airport. Now, I had met this person all of one time. It was at a large gathering, and he was meeting everyone for the first time. I did not expect him to remember me. I felt a little awkward, holding that sign as I stood at the bottom of the escalators, sort of wishing I had a chauffeur hat or uniform to justify my sign holding moment. Everyone around me was rushing to their loved ones, or shaking hands with colleagues, but I was standing there with a silly, hand-made sign, waiting for someone I barely knew.
And then he saw the sign. Someone was there, someone he didn’t know, but someone still was there, calling out his name when he needed it. The smile on his face was such a gift. It took all of 20 minutes of my day, and yet that smile carried me far throughout the week.
To be called by name is to be known. To be of use is to live out God’s call.
Isaiah’s words ring so true “says the Lord, who created you, who formed you, who redeemed you. Do not be afraid. I have claimed you, called you by name. You are mine.” Is 43:1
You. Are. Mine. Isn’t that what well long for? To be so claimed, loved, held and known, that our very name is on the lips of our God? To matter so much that no matter where we are, stranded in an airport, overwhelmed in a sea of school, work, or conference, or wherever you find yourself, that is causing you fear – you are claimed. You are loved. Your name is shouted from the rooftops.
So today, look someone in the eye, say their name, and know that from the very depths of the one who made us all, we are called by name, claimed, known, and loved.