I’ve got a pretty great name. I’m not bragging either. It is true and on a practical level. The reason I think my name is pretty great is because it serves to identify me, but it also only outs the most articulate of men who don’t know my name. The reason is because “Hey, Matt” sounds an awful lot like “Hey, man,” and I would argue that “man” is the predominant term men use to greet each other—especially when one can’t remember another’s name. “Hey, man.” I mean, it just rolls off the tongue, is accurate, sounds friendly enough, but truly it exists as a filler where something else belongs—something like Jeffrey. Or Roger.
But someone just passed me in the hallway, and it was someone who should by all accounts know my name. Not because I’m worth knowing or think I’m a big deal but because I’ve had no less than 43 conversations with this person. (I’m not proposing that 43 is the magical number of conversations that disallows a person from not knowing my name, but if I were proposing that, I don’t think I would be too out of line.) I locked eyes with the person and said my greeting, “Hey, _______”, but I didn’t say “blank” nor an expletive. I said a name. His name, in fact.
And he returned with, “Hey, ma . . .” Honestly you couldn’t tell if it was a hard “t” sound at the end or a trailed-off “n”. I’m pretty sure it was an “n” because two weeks ago this person thought my name was Jose—true story too. He thought my name was actually Jose. Do I look the scarcest bit like any Jose you’ve ever seen? Anyway, I wasn’t sure if the whole Jose incident had been cleared up and he recalled I was a “Matt” or not, and I walked away unfazed by the trauma of not being known, because, who knows, he may have known my name and called me by name.
And that is the beauty of “Matt”: I do not know when men don’t remember my name. And it feels great. I can hardly imagine being a Jeffrey or Roger (and also why I think “Guy” is a totally under-rated modern name).
Though this was a small victory today, it awakened in me the universal longing and beauty of being known. Like when someone really important sees you out about town and says hello, but includes your name . . . man, doesn’t that just mean the world? They know me! They called me by name! It feels great! Or I think about the crushes I had, say in high school, and the girl who I was too shy to speak to said hi to me and KNEW MY NAME! It was the absolute best.
And if that is the absolutely best, of course, the absolute worst is not being known. Being forgotten, neglected, or called Jose by someone who you have made at least 43 individual impressions on . . . it is a tough feeling, for sure.
And then there is this—if the Bible is true, God knows my name! He doesn’t go with a hard to discern “Ma . . .” No cheap nicknames; He says it free and clear: Matt! He knows me. And He loves me anyway. I can go through life without feeling bad about not being known or getting over being forgotten or called Jose precisely because the Creator of the world knows me. He knows my name. And He knows yours too.