I have a confession to make: the lady behind the deli counter thinks she knows me. Not by being a familiar face that comes every week to buy off the bone ham and honey turkey with a side of Colby cheese but KNOWS me in the sense that we’ve had long meaningful conversations. Let me explain a little further.
The first time she said, Hey! I know you! We had that wonderful conversation at our Christmas party last year. Yeah! I thought I recognized you! And off she went to slice my cheese. We were 10 deep at the deli counter, and I was wearing my mask so a) it’s impossible to see someone’s whole face and b) it makes it hard to hear if I tried to explain that I wasn’t that girl. Besides that, there would have been a mutiny among the meat seekers if I slowed this poor lady down any further than she already moved.
A couple weeks later, my man is at the deli counter while I shop for the rest of our groceries, and when I walked over next to him, my friend/not friend’s eyes lit up and she talked up a storm. When we walked away, my man made a comment about how her demeanor changed when I walked over there. I explained that a) I was nice to her when other people grumbled out loud about how slow things moved and b) she thinks she knows me.
Wait, what? She thinks she knows you?
I think so.
Then I went to store by myself. I ordered my off the bone ham and honey roasted turkey with a side of Colby cheese. She sliced the turkey, put it on the scale, looks at me and says, do you remember what the number is for Sarah Lee Honey Roasted Turkey? You and Courtney used to help me with the numbers all the time when we worked together. You remember Courtney, right? I think she moved to Texas. Those were such fun days! And off she went to slice my cheese.
I am so far down this rabbit hole now that I’m not sure how to find my way out of it. I’ll keep smiling (with my eyes because, well, masks) and nodding my head and pray that there is a line, so we don’t have time for chit chat.
I’ve been mistaken for someone I’m not.
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There is a familiar passage in John 10 where Jesus refers to Himself as the Good Shepherd and we are referred to as the sheep. He talks of being the gate for the sheep, the keeper of the sheep, the protector of the sheep even unto His very own death.
Something that struck me afresh when I read this passage recently was the fact that He calls His own sheep by name. (verse 3) Every one of them? There must be dozens, if not hundreds of sheep that any given shepherd has in his care. And Jesus knows each one and each one has a name?
We’ve had various flocks of chickens through the years, usually a couple dozen at a time and have never named them one by one. They are simply known as “the girls.” There’s too many to name and besides, each breed looks so much alike that there is no point in giving them individual names…unless, of course there is something that makes one particular one stand out…like Crooked Toe because she got stepped on when she was little, and her feet were all weird. But who wants to be named for the thing that’s wrong with them? Keep reading dear reader.
We take good care of them. Feed them. Water them. Put fencing up to protect them from predators which, quite frankly has not always worked. Check on them daily. But we don’t really know them…their quirks, their personalities (do chickens have personalities?), their interactions with each other.
But Jesus sees each sheep and knows them. Their habits. Their wanderings. Their individual markings. He knows them and names them. He is the Good Shepherd.
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I’ve been known by a lot of names through the years. Some given by others. Some self-proclaimed. Some are beautiful. Some not so much. Some are from different seasons of life. Some have stuck through the years…both good and bad. Some I’m trying to shed. Some I’m trying to heal from. Some I’m trying to accept because I don’t always see myself as others see me.
That’s the way of it, isn’t it?
In The Soul of Desire, psychiatrist Curt Thompson suggests that underneath all our longings is the desire to be known. But that often our craving to be known has been marred by trauma and shame. (from the back cover of his book)
I wonder if in our culture to be constant, to be busy, to be the best, to be successful, to be, to be, to be, is our way of making ourselves known? Of making a name for ourselves? Of outrunning names from our past? Of out proving the names if only in our own minds?
Perhaps what we need to do instead is listen for His voice as He calls us each by name because He knows us. Then we can rest in who we are…known and named by our Creator.
There is a sweet children’s book by Max Lucado called You Are Special and is set in the town of Wemmickville where there lives a Wemmick named Punchinello. Each day the residents award stickers―gold stars for the talented, smart, and attractive Wemmicks, and gray dots for those who make mistakes or are just plain ordinary. Punchinello, covered in gray dots, begins to feel worthless. Then one day he visits Eli the woodcarver, his creator, and he learns that his worth comes from a different source. (taken from the description on the back cover)
I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know me. (John 10:14)
Jesus doesn’t mistake me for someone I’m not.
He doesn’t confuse me with someone else.
He doesn’t name me by a handicap/disease/shortcoming.
He doesn’t call me by my past mistakes.
He doesn’t know me as victim or marred or wrong or dumb or not enough.
Now this is what the Lord says—the One who created you, Jacob, and the one who formed you, Israel—Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine. (Isaiah 43:1)
Rest in that my beloveds and see if those stinking gray dots don’t start to fall off.
You are known.
You are named.