On Mothers’ Day evening I was shopping in Ross and came out of the dressing room to the sight and sounds of a woman, distraught, arguing with the customer service personnel.
There were at least 30 other people in the store, standing absolutely still as the woman raged on, cursing and violently throwing everything out of her two carts full of items. Some parents had their hands over their kids’ ears. Some looked terrified as she reached into her purse and pulled out a…receipt (phew) and turned to the store-audience.
“Not ONE of these people has tried to help me!” She yelled. “The service is awful here! My mother is dead and they won’t let me return things I couldn’t use because I had to go to a funeral. AND NO ONE WILL HELP ME CARRY THIS STUFF BACK TO THE CAR!!! (The carts have those long poles on them so people can’t take them outside.)
I heard flip flops breaking the silence, heading up towards to registers. To my surprise, they were my flip flops.
“I can help”, I heard myself say as I gathered up the baskets, pillows and kids’ socks that were all over the floor. “I’m Amie. What’s your name?”
I asked because it popped into my brain that no one had heard her out during the whole transaction…they had just looked at her receipt, saw that she was over the allotted return time and tried to send her away. No one took time to recognize her as a human.
It’s crazy, but the simple act of learning someone’s name does wonders for their sense of feeling respected. In Dale Carnagie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People course, we were taught that a person’s name is the sweetest and most important sound in any language.
I think God operates by that principal too! He says in Isaiah 43:1 “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. I love that he knows my name! For me, that means that I am significant enough to be known by the creator.
The woman’s name was Marissa, and just by getting to know her name, she felt like I was an ally. A man named Alfonso and I slowly but surely got her to leave the store and helped her avoid being arrested. We packed up her things and I made sure she was safe to drive.
Two things were on my mind as I left the store. The first is practical: before telling someone disappointing news, it helps to know them a little bit—or to at least know their name. It’s to both of your benefits, because then you see each other as people, not as problems. The second is that there is so much personal security in being connected to a God knows each of us by name. If he knows me personally, I can be more assured that he actually cares about how my life is going—that he hears me when I call and that he has claimed me as his own.
I wish I had gotten a chance to talk more with Marissa about this name-knowing God, but I didn’t. I’m praying that God can use the feeling of respect she got from our interaction to soothe her spirit and give her hope!