Some of the names I have been called.
Names are important. They have the capacity to bless us or make us feel extremely vulnerable. There is great power in a name.
Think of the derogatory names you were called at school or as a child. Or, the nicknames that have stuck with you, though you despised them. Those names that stick — those names we hate — have the power to haunt us into anxious self-consciousness.
Think about the times when people have referred to you by name, or better, used your name in the sentences they use when talking with you; the use of your name conveyed interest and care for you.
I have found the following to be true: whenever I meet new people I find I can remember their name much better if I have an emotional engagement with the person. Like the girl that I met who, on the second occasion, seemed particularly devastated that I had forgotten her name. That was the last time I forgot her name. Or the boy who shared with me how he felt about being bullied. I adopted his name and his story from that day onward.
Names are the key to hearts. ‘Sticks ‘n’ stones’ was untrue. Sticks and stones may break bones, but names have the potential to break spirits. Equally, names, used appropriately, have the potential to validate the identity of and empower a person.
A person who cares for another person will take care to refer to them by name. But a person who does not care will resort to name-calling. Both usages of names have great power. Which power will we employ?
Will we commit to showing interest in and care for people by referring to them by their name?