One reason St. John Paul II was greatly loved is because he made the extra effort to remember the name of each person he met and little things about them. He remembered the names of Swiss guards, seminarians, and other people he randomly met throughout his life, even years later. He could even remember all the 2000+ bishops individually by name! WOW!
He had the power to help others feel loved just by remembering and using their name. How? What is so special about remembering someone’s name?
Sometimes we lose site of the meaning and purpose of names. We think they are just for convenience sake to put on our IDs, things we own, and talk to each other easier. But your name is more than a bunch of letters grouped together. It has a meaning and a purpose. It is YOU.
From the very beginning God started naming things. “God called the light ‘day,’ and the darkness he called ‘night’… God called the dome ‘sky’… God called the dry land ‘earth,’ and the basin of water he called ‘sea'” (Genesis 1:5-10). Whenever He called someone to a new life, He changed his name. “No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham, for I am making you the father of a multitude of nations” (Genesis 17:5). God is giving a Abram a new life and changing him into a new man. Likewise, after Jacob wrestled with the angel in Genesis 32 his name was changed to Israel because He was made a new man. God changes a person’s name as a sign of God changing their essence.
However what about the opposite situation? What is the purpose of someone losing their name or being given a number instead?
During the horrific time of the Holocaust when millions of people were treated worse than animals and put to death in concentration camps, they were each given a number. To the Nazis they were unimportant and worth nothing, so as an act of desecration to each as a human person they were given a number. A number influences a person to feel worthless, but a name gives a person identity as a child of God.
You have been given a name.
At the moment of your birth you were gifted with a name. A name uniquely and specially chosen for you. A name giving you an identity and essence. A name that defines you as a child of God.
When someone makes the extra effort to use your name when talking to you or when someone announces your name in honor of something, how does it make you feel?
If you think about it, your name is one of the sweetest and most important sounds in the world. I know whenever someone uses my name in a kind way it brightens my day and helps me feel loved. It helps you feel special because it sets you apart and shows that someone is truly addressing and focusing on you as an individual instead of just a, “Hey, you.”
Just like how your name sets you apart as an individual and makes you unique among everyone else, others feel the same way about theirs. If it makes you feel special and loved when someone uses your name at the beginning of a sentence or throughout a friendly conversation, imagine how it would feel to someone else if you did the same with their name.
I challenge you to make extra effort to remember people’s names and use it when addressing them.
Yes, I know it can be hard (I’m still struggling to do it myself) and it might feel uncomfortable, but with great sacrifice comes great love. Someone’s name is one of the most special things they own and the sweetest things they can hear. To think you can do a little thing like saying someone’s name to help them feel loved and special is incredible. Let’s strive to follow JPII’s example by treating others as unique child of God!
Did you ever have a positive experience by someone using your name or you using another person’s name? I’d love to hear in the comments below!