I read the other day that the best ice-breaker in today’s polarized society is to start by introducing yourself (in a mixed group) and telling a stranger a little bit about the origin of your name and then asking them how their name came about.
Even if there is no deep ancestral hand-me-down story, or funny family nickname, famous and/or Biblical origins…there is always room for laughter or awe/appreciation for someone else’s name. And once that familiarity is shared…it is amazing how much more open two people are with each other….even if each has a completely different view on life and politics.
I think the best educational conference I attended was the one where we were purposefully given someone else’s name tag and then had to find that person wearing our name tag. It was a hilarious game of “Marco Polo” with so many different names being called out that it must have resembled the Ellis Island immigration station at its peak or, perhaps, the building of the Tower of Babel.
Quinn Caldwell talks about the importance of our names (Readings from…All I Really Want)…Here are a few short excerpts.
Names matter. What people call us and what we call ourselves, matters. What’s the deal with your name? Who gave it to you? Why? What does it mean? Is there a story behind it? Are you named for someone? Are you glad to be that person’s namesake?
Did you ever feel negative feelings about your name after kids taunted you with it…or parents gave you an embarrassing nickname…or did you ever decide to re-name yourself? Did you gladly add “Daddy or Mommy” to your name or ( *I had to laugh at this sentence) become somebody’s “Schmoopie” or somebody’s “Boo?”) 🙂
Did you know that your name is very very old? It contains the real truth of whom you truly are inside? It’s the name God gave you in the womb and every morning since…”Beloved.”
So until tomorrow (Caldwell’s prayer)
Holy God, you gave me the only name that really matters. I can’t top that, but let me try just one more name that I think is pretty good, too: Just call me “Yours,” Amen
“Today is my favorite day” Winnie the Pooh
*I will have to say that I tried to avoid name tags as much as possible at big educational conferences because I have had two new blouses destroyed by those old cheap stick-on paper tags… that upon pulling them off left a mark that never came off in the wash…two blouses that became two expensive dust cloths. Thank goodness for necklaces with plastic name covers.