Proverbs 22:1 “A good name is more desirable than great riches;to be esteemed is better then silver or gold.”
It did not take long after we had moved from suburbia to our new rural small town to experience and learn a few new things. Small town, rural living comes with challenges that I never even imagined, things that I had never experienced in my life. Experience certainly can give you a change of perspective. In my mind our rural life would be one like “Little House on the Prairie”( If you have never seen this show, check it out. It is old, but so good.) or “Gilmore Girls”. I real sense of community, everyone knowing and caring about each other. friendly hello’s, baked pies and enjoying the great outdoors. But reality was, deer flies, ticks,biting midges, wolf spiders, and of course the question of “What’s your name?” That question was not new. The expected answer was what was new. In the suburbs when I met someone new, name exchanges were usually only first names. I can actually say that I had met many people that I never knew their last name. It seemed almost irrelevant, they way they interacted with me was more of my concern. Did they treat me good, did we have any common interests, basically did I enjoy being around them. In my new small town the expected answer to “What’s your name?”, included your last name. Small towns tend to be filled with more generational families. Makes me think of the song, Small Town by John Mellencamp, where he says “I was born in a small town, likely die in that same small town”. For a short period of time, I noticed that after I gave the answer, peoples interaction with me was different. They quickly ended the conversation, as if I had said something offensive. Initially I thought that it was just that people were busy, or a little less friendly then in the suburbs. Then one day a lady I met gave me some clarification, and some wisdom. She explained to me that in my small town there was a family that had the same last name as me that had earned a bad reputation. The wisdom she shared was that when I answer the “What’s your name question, I should immediately follow it with the statement of I have no relatives out here. Sure enough once I started saying that the reactions of people changed. It was so bizarre to me.
The above scripture explains the importance of having a good name, and how valuable it is. I experienced judgement based on my name, that I had to overcome. I have now made many connections and friends in our small town. I try to show love to the people in my community, at Christmas I give out tins of goodies to my neighbors, and the small local business to show my gratitude for them being there, I run a women’s ministry, and I try to always be kind. I think, or at least I hope that I have established a good name in our small community.
It was through my loving others as Jesus example that I was able to overcome the judgement associated with my name. I was able to earn a good name because of Him. Whatever judgement you are facing in life because of things that are out of your control, be confident that you can earn a good name for yourself despite them. We all also need to be aware of the judgement’s we are making about others based on the things that they can not control and loving them, opening up our hearts to them to discover who they are as individuals.
This experience also made think of and investigate last names in the Bible including Jesus. I was amazed to discover that most of the people in the Bible including Jesus did not have last names. They are referenced as son or daughter of their fathers first name or by occupation. Wonder how that would work in today’s society? Just something to make to make you think.