I have this weird quirk. Whenever I run into an acquaintance, I re-introduce myself. I have possibly been around this person once or twice before, but I do it anyway. Often.
My greeting sounds something like, "Hey! I'm Dani. Brody's mom? They go to school together." No matter how many times I meet familiar faces, I feel the necessity to overcome the chance of awkwardness by just blurting out my bio, "I have three kids. I'm a stay-at-home mom..."
As if expecting to be easily forgettable, I hurry to establish our connection before they have to ask me to remind them. Quite honestly, I draw a blank too sometimes, so I don't want anyone to feel badly for forgetting who I am. Let's just call this a helpful quirk.
But I would rather just be recognized. Wouldn't you? It would save me some anxiety.I truly want to be known and be in relationship with others, so it's validating when someone calls me by my name without any prompting. And I would guess that I'm not the only one who feels relief when she sees a friend in a crowd of strange name tags.
But there were whole seasons in life when I actually felt more anonymous than known. Moving to a new place is like that. Beginning a new job or a new school can be both exciting and scary endeavors, because we are essentially starting over as a nobody. Becoming a mom was one of those nameless eras too. While my husband excelled in his career and my friends enjoyed years of travel during their single or newlywed status, I was home figuring out how to manage things and take care of a baby- relatively alone.
It was a time of identity crisis and hiding for me. I hardly knew how to hold a conversation back then. Because after all, who was I? What did I do? I didn't think that I had anything interesting to contribute to a social gathering.
But the mom season has also been a time of growing up and leaning in. God re-shaped my purpose and vision when I was incognito. He showed me my importance, apart from blazing achievements (or lack thereof).
During a visit with a friend last week, we were talking around this topic of being known and knowing who we are. It was fascinating how our experiences and uncovered truths sparked off of each other. Towards the end of this spontaneous dialogue, we found a verse that jumped off the screen of my friend's poor, crackled-faced smart phone:
"Family of Jacob, The Lord created you. People of Israel, He formed you. He says, 'Do not be afraid. I will set you free. I will send for you by name. You belong to me (Isaiah 43:1, NIRV).'"
Other versions say: "I have called you by name."
These recently discovered words make me imagine a parent calling the kids home for dinner. Because they belong to that family. Because they were given names, carefully chosen and picked out before they were born. Their names set them apart from the other kids playing football in the field. When children hear their names called, they are aware of their place in the world. They are wanted, and they are known by their name.
To realize that the Creator knows MY name, and uses it to call me, is such a big deal. Because I have often needed to be reminded that I am not actually alone or forgotten or unknown. How I feel or how others make me feel, in any given season, doesn't brand me. GOD sees me! HE knows my name!
There is such security in knowing that I never have to open my prayers with, "Hello, God. Remember me?"
Thank goodness, too! Because I'm probably going to keep sticking out my hand and re-introducing myself to the rest of you. Just in case.
And that's one less awkward exchange ;-)
"Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely (1 Corinthians 13.12, NLT)."