Called by Name

There’s a song by Dan Damon that I have come to love–“I have called you by your name, you are mine…”

There are a number of concepts in the song that have been meaningful to me for various reasons over the last few years–but over the weekend, the first line of it triggered some thoughts.

“I have called you by your name…”

God knows us by name and calls us by name! What a wonderful thought–that the Creator of all that was, that is, and that shall be knows us individually and calls us by our names!

If God does that, then what does that say about what our relationships with each other should be like?

I remember many years ago (when I first worked at the workplace I have returned to) there was a woman who made sure that the women’s bathrooms were kept clean and well supplied. She was a quiet-spoken woman; as I look back from the perspective of many years, I think she probably didn’t want to make waves…we were not all that far past the turmoil of the Civil Rights movement. But I didn’t think of that. I just knew that whenever I went into the restroom, it was clean and neat–and it was thanks to Myrtle. So I made sure that I let her know that I appreciated her.

Since I’ve returned to this workplace, I’ve again become aware of those individuals whose primary work is behind the scenes, but who keep the facilities clean–and I’ve made it a point to call them by name…to ask about family situations.

Why?

I think it goes back to what my dad both preached and lived–and what my faith tradition also says (although still having trouble living out completely)…that all people are of worth. If all are of worth, then all are worthy of being called by name…and if God calls each of us by name, then we need to know each others’ names as well.

I’m reminded of the story of a test that a college professor gave one time.

During my second month of college, our professor gave us a pop quiz. I was a conscientious student and had breezed through the questions until I read the last one: “What is the first name of the woman who cleans the school?”

Surely this was some kind of joke. I had seen the cleaning woman several times. She was tall, dark-haired and in her 50s, but how would I know her name? I handed in my paper, leaving the last question blank. Just before class ended, one student asked if the last question would count toward our quiz grade.

“Absolutely,” said the professor. “In your careers, you will meet many people. All are significant. They deserve your attention and care, even if all you do is smile and say “hello”.

I’ve never forgotten that lesson. I also learned her name was Dorothy.

Can you call the people you work with…go to school with…attend church with…shop with…can you call them by name? God can.

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