It was dinner time and the restaurant I’d chosen was teeming with hungry patrons. The din of clatter and conversation had reached full song. The corporate designers of this restaurant chain had intentionally chosen seating arrangements that allowed for an open line of sight across the entire serving floor—a feature I like for two reasons. One, I’m a born people-watcher; I enjoy the ebb and flow of a public restaurant. And two, I can more easily spot my server who, in turn, can also see me. There are times I prefer privacy, but if I’m stopping in for a quick bite, I don’t need ambiance. I’ve learned cozy restaurant booths with ambiance share a similar problem with truck drivers. I’m sure you’ve seen this message on the back of a semi trailer, “Caution: If you can’t see the driver in his mirror—He can’t see you.” Well, I believe there’s a parallel here. If I can’t see my server, they can’t see me…which leaves me with an empty glass and no ketchup.
And so, it was with feigned timidity I asked, “Ashley…can I get a refill here please?”
Because I’m high maintenance (one reason I always tip at least 20%) and because I do sympathize with busy servers (another reason to tip well), I was surprised by Ashley’s quick response. Spinning on her heels she smiled and said, “Oh, you remembered my name! Most people just say ‘Hey you’ or holler ‘Waitress’”. She went on, “It’s so nice you remembered my name.”
I learned years ago there are few things people cherish more in this life than the sound of their name. I don’t believe its ego or self-indulgence; I believe it’s spiritual. Your first name is your primary possession. It’s the only thing about you that hasn’t changed over the years. It’s the one thing you can’t lose and it’s the one thing that remains after you’re gone. Unfortunately for some, the sound of their name contains haunting echoes of past hurts. But for most of us, the mere mention of our name instinctively, even involuntarily, opens us to a peculiar vulnerability. Have you ever been busy about your day and out of nowhere someone calls your name? How do you respond? Don’t you smile as you turn to see who’s speaking?
Once, while introducing a visitor to our church, we walked the busy building as I greeted numbers of people by name. After a while he turned to me and said, “I see why you are so well received as pastor here, you remember peoples’ names.” It was perhaps the most important compliment I’ve ever received. There are few things as important as your name.
Previous generations placed more importance on their name than perhaps we do today. Today our name is often little more than an efficient way to separate us from others. But to our forefathers, it was much more than a mere moniker…more than an identifier; It was their reputation. Good men were willing to die rather than have their name, or the name of someone they held dear, besmirched. It was more than personal pride. They believed there was nothing more important than the reputation of the name they’d been privileged to be given—the name for which their family had worked so hard to maintain. Before the petty legalities of paperwork, a person’s name was their bond. Their name was a testament to who they were and for those principles for which they stood.
On this Memorial Day, as we remember those who have given their lives for our country, perhaps we won’t remember them all by name, but we will remember those principles for which they stood. Just as Ashley demonstrated, there’s power in a name.
The Bible uses a powerful word picture to demonstrate the importance of a single name. It reminds all of us that believers as well as nonbelievers will one day come into the presence of Jesus Christ and the mere mention of his name will cause “every knee to bow and every tongue to confess that He is Lord!” (Philippians 2:10). There’s power in a name!
Have a blessed Memorial Day. RG
Read Ron’s column, Simple Faith, each Saturday on the Faith Page (page 3) of the Lancaster Eagle Gazette, or visit www.lancastereaglegazette.com.