They named a drink after me. Usually had it ready the moment they saw my license plate. I’d walk in the door, and the whole group behind the counter would call my name.
Yes, just like the TV show Cheers, only in a coffee shop.
It felt good to be known, like I belonged, like they were glad I was there, like they were waiting for me.
Funny how that works.
It’s the same at school. I walk into the office, and the secretaries greet me with a huge smile and “Hey, Elizabeth!” Yes, I helped design the building. Yes, I spent hours volunteering and subbing there. But their greeting makes me want to stay and work for hours more.
But I walk into a different school—where I also spent years of time—and they’re unsmiling “May I help you?” falls flat.
Amazing the difference.
Like the Cheers theme song:
Wouldn’t you like to get away?
Where everybody knows your name
And they’re always glad you came
You want to go where everybody knows your name.
It’s not just about reading a name tag. It’s about being accepted. Part of the team. Family.
We want to belong.
It’s the cry of every human heart, even those who have been so hurt, they don’t even know how to connect anymore.
But what happens instead? Rarely do we sit around talking about how included we feel.
Funny thing is, we often want others to make us feel wanted, but we don’t spend much time reaching out to make others feel the same.
Or we get our little cliques and huddle together like our life depends on it, feeling so special because we fit in—until we don’t. And then we wonder how “they” can be so awful to create such cliques in the first place.
And by the way, did you ever notice on Cheers, that, while the theme song said, “they’re always glad you came,” they were actually nasty to each other?
Ah, people are fickle.
Believe me, I know.
Because I’m a people.
It’s so easy to get caught in the trap. Wanting to be the perfect puzzle piece, but instead groaning at the small talk that comes from people keeping people at arms’ length.
The trap is easy, but the hurt is hard. And it’s not much easier to walk alone.
The truth is, being known comes and goes.
They quit making my favorite tea bag, and my namesake drink suddenly didn’t exist. People came, people went. Eventually I was just another customer standing in line trying to choose my drink before I frustrated the people behind me.
And it made me think of Joseph. The Old Testament one.
- His brothers never accepted him. Yes, His father treated him special [Known], but that just made it worse with his brothers. They didn’t even call him by name: “Here comes this dreamer!” (Genesis 37:19) They sold him to Egyptians. [Forgotten]
- As a slave, he quickly rose to the head of the servants where his master trusted him implicitly. [Known] But when he refused advances from the man’s wife, Joseph was thrown in jail. [Forgotten]
- In prison, he again proved trustworthy, and the jailors gave him special responsibilities. [Known] Along came the cup bearer and the baker, who asked Joseph to interpret their dreams. What he said came true. And he was promptly… [Forgotten]
- Finally, Pharaoh heard of this dream-wonder and released him from prison. Joseph saved the whole region using the wisdom God gave him, and Pharaoh set Joseph as second-in-command. [Known] Forever to be remembered right?
Exodus 1:8: Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” [Forgotten]
Over and over forgotten by people.
But never by God.
Joseph said, “It was not you who sent me here, but God, and He has made me…ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:8).
And then in the New Testament, who does God still remember when naming the faithful of Hebrews 11? Joseph.
I admit, as important as this man had been to the Egyptians’ survival, even though I know how fickle we humans can be, I’ve struggled to understand how the new Pharaoh could just not know him at all.
Until I saw a more recent example in another man, Billy Graham.
For me growing up, he was a household name. At least in my house. Everyone I knew knew who he was. He went from city to city all over the nation sharing the gospel. On the cover of Time magazine five times, he had a recognizable face, a recognizable voice, a recognizable humility. And countless numbers came to Christ through his preaching.
The one time I met him—even though it was only a few seconds—imprinted on my mind for a lifetime such that I wrote a post on it soon after he died.
But a few days later, I mentioned to a friend that Billy Graham had passed away, and he said, “Who?”
Suddenly my eyes were opened to how it happened with Joseph. In this world, we are just a breath.
People have short memories. We’re so busy running around trying to be known and belong that we forget others. Self -focused. Inattentive, jealous, cliquish.
Round the corner, and we’re forgotten. By people.
But never by God.
- Before He even formed us in the womb, He knew us (Jeremiah 1:5).
- He knows our name and calls us (John 10:3).
- He not only calls us by name, He redeemed us and said, “you are Mine!” (Isaiah 43:1).
- But He also calls us to know HIS name (Psalm 91:14).
- And one day He will give each of us who are His a new name written on stone—never to be forgotten—that will only be known between Him and us. (Revelation 2:17)
Oh, it feels good to be known. To belong. To know He’s glad I’m here, and He’s waiting for me.
It doesn’t matter if everybody knows my name. CHRIST does.