Did you ever feel the urge to look around the room to see if maybe you left the room without knowing it? If you are a person with a physically noticeable disability, you are able to relate to this totally. For example, you’re in a restaurant and a waitress comes over and asks the friend you are with, “What would she like to have?”. In another instance, you’re in a room with one other person and another person walks in and says, “Hello,” and starts a conversation with that other person without even acknowledging your presence. Even at a party with a large group of people, you can feel all alone when you suddenly realize that you’re watching everyone else talking with each other. Even when you initiate a conversation, the person sees a friend and cuts the conversation short.
These may be isolated instances for some, but going unnoticed or ignored by others happens far too frequently to a person with a disability. Anonymity is desirable when one wishes to remain anonymous. However, everyone, at least everyone I know, needs to be validated and to be cared for and to be known by significant others and shown the same courtesy and respect that all human beings are to receive. Without having this very human desire met, this crowded world would be a very lonely place in which to live.
I remember a time when I was still able to walk and I was out and about speed-walking and doing errands. I was in a very crowded place, called Thornes Market, where no one knew who I was. I almost felt invisible, because people kept bumping into me as they scurried to where they wanted to go. I too just wanted to get through the crowd, do what errands I needed to do, and go home. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a familiar voice called out, “Lydia.” Out of the hustle and bustle of the noisy crowd, I heard the magic word: “Lydia.” Isn’t it interesting how our attention can be turned whenever we hear our own name, no matter how hard we are concentrating on other things. The sound of our own name is very special to us. It’s much better than, “Hey you” or hearing someone talk about you in the third person, even when you’re in the room.
When I turned my attention away from the bumper-car-like crowd and looked up (I’m only five feet tall), I saw my mail carrier, who smiled and repeated, “Hi Lydia.” Hearing my name caused my mood to do a complete one-hundred-and-eighty-degree turn. I no longer felt like a nameless face, struggling to stay on my feet in the midst of a crowd of unknown faces, in which I also was an unknown face. Instead, I was “Lydia,” a person who was valued enough to be known by name, by someone who knew hundreds of names. My mail carrier actually knew my name, without having to see me in my yard and with my mail in his hands. How cool is that!
To be known by name gives a person a feeling of significance, and to hear the magic word during times of loneliness and even despair can make all the difference in the world. How awesome it is to try to imagine what it was like for Mary to hear her name on that first Resurrection Morning! She must have felt very lonely and afraid; despairing thoughts crowding her mind and tears flooding her eyes. It must have been hard to see anything clearly, until “Jesus said to her, ’Mary’” (John 20:16a). The Resurrected Christ called her by name, and she was no longer a grief-stricken woman all alone in her anguish, but a joyful, hopeful follower of her Risen Lord and Savior Jesus Christ; the Good Shepherd who would always care for her as one of His sheep. It must have been the knock-your-socks-off and jump-out-of-your skin kind of joy. I had some good news recently and it made me shout for joy and practically jump out of my wheelchair. Mary’s joy in seeing her GOOD NEWS was so much more than my good news! However, I too will experience Mary’s joy one day!
Like Mary, Jesus knows us by name. John 10:2 &14 says, “The watchman opens the gate for Him (Jesus) and the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His sheep by name and leads them out…I am the Good Shepherd; I know My sheep and My sheep know Me.” As followers of our Lord Jesus, we know that someday we will see His Face, just as Mary did. Then, we will fully understand the significance of being known by Christ. When that day comes and I hear Jesus call my name, it will be magic!
“[Lydia] who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never erase [Lydia’s] name from the Book of Life, but will acknowledge [Lydia’s] name before My Father and His angels…” (Rev.3:5)
You also, as one of the sheep of the Good Shepherd, can insert your name into this verse. It will make all the difference in the world!