I worked at a college for 5 years in the field of Student Development. It was a fantastic job where I worked around the clock, always on call, constantly interacting with college kids, both listening and sharing, always learning, students and staff wrestling through life struggles and conflict, developing and imparting leadership skills every day life, in most interactions. The truth is, I can’t believe I got to hang out with college kids for an extra five years post graduation. My life is richer for every student I met. It was the funnest, most draining job eh. ver!
Well, each summer as the students sent in their housing paperwork (back before e-filing…), my colleagues and I would sit around on the floor of our boss’ office, applications strewn wide, and we would match roommates. On the forms were spaces for kids to share their interests and living preferences. And, in the top right hand corner there was a little box where students attached what was usually their senior picture, like Facebook before Facebook ever existed.
And here is where the fun came into play. Once roommates were selected and grouped, I would paper clip them into a pile and memorize their names and faces, praying for each one. When the campus opened in August, bustling with nervously excited new students, and families cutting cords, I would recognize faces left and right, and I knew their names.
“Hi Stephanie! Welcome to NWC! I’m Adrienne, your Resident Director…Hi Elizabeth! Welcome to NWC! I’m Adrienne, your Resident Director. How was your trip from Colorado?…Hi Annie! Welcome to NWC!…Hi Amanda! Hi Britta! Hi Johanna!” For the most part, their reactions were the same…a double take with a facial expression revealing the sentiments, “How do you know my name?” with a mixed look of, “Wow, someone knows my name here in this big new world called college!” and “Why does that weird lady know my name?”
I’m just one girl who for five years knew a couple thousand names, names I had to work hard at memorizing. Imagine being the Creator of every person to walk the Earth…my head explodes even thinking about how many names that adds up to over history and today. The thing is, some of those kids let me know them a little more than by name. I was the RD, so some were maybe intimidated by the title or authority, never choosing to get to know me or my name. But for those who realized I was a person, too, it was an honor for me to get to know them, to learn more of their stories than just their names, faces, DOB, state or city from where they had moved, and if they preferred a loud room or early bed time. Whenever I had office hours and a student would drop in on their own accord, I was grateful for their willingness to reach out. Some of these students are my closest friends today because we shared meals together, walked and talked, listened and laughed and cried together.
A long time ago when I only thought of God as a big scary entity with a title, who knew my name, where I lived, my DOB,and watched my every move, good or bad, I lived avoiding Him, or at least whatever discipline I thought He was ready to dish my less than perfect behavior. Slowly as I learned more about Him, and even got to know Him, it occurred to me that spending time with Him, even though challenging at times, was kind of nice. It was natural, normal, what I was made for…a relationship with my Maker, the One who knows me, made me, loves me, and Who knows my name.
What if God knows your name? His door is always open…His office hours are every day from now to eternity.