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Your name matters

I have to be honest with you, I was never really in love with my name. I don’t have any real reason for that. It’s not a bad name. I just never really embraced it.

When I published my book, I used my initials — not to hide, I just wasn’t comfortable seeing my name splashed out there like that.

I once took an internet “happiness” quiz that told me seeing my name over and over was supposed to make me feel good — it didn’t, it just felt kind of creepy, like when someone complements you with a little too much gushiness. Now, the quiz was right that purple is my happy color. Who knew there was even such a thing? But I digress.

These days, I type my name several times a day, see it in print almost every day and have started to identify with it. Maybe that makes me a little late to the party, but, hey, at least I’m showing up.

One thing about my name, and yours, is that putting it on a document means I accept responsibility and accountability for the contents. If I make a mistake, I have to own it. If my words hurt someone or disappoint them, it’s on me.

Recently, there’s been a renewed rash of letters directed at people designed to shame them into changing their behavior or who they are. The thing is, these letters aren’t signed.

First of all, I take offense to this person using the name of Christianity to hurt others — that’s not how it works, folks, you can’t hate people into heaven. You can only love them to show the way. Labeling and name calling just push people away from your message.

Secondly, the lack of a signature tells me the author doesn’t stand behind their words.

For just a minute, I’m going to pretend I believe that this person has the good of humanity at heart — it will be difficult, but I did take an acting class in college.

If you really want to help by showing people the error of their ways, you have to be available afterward to guide them down the right path. If your ultimate goal is to keep them from going to hell, angry words and accusations aren’t going to save them. They need love.

If you believe that this is what love looks like, then maybe you need love. We can’t love you if we don’t know who you are.

Maybe that’s not their intention. Perhaps they really are trying to stir up controversy and get their name in the paper — jokes on you, we’d have to know it first. Maybe their plan is to make Christianity look bad.

There’s only one way to combat that. True Christians need to unite and show love. Agape love, unconditional love. That’s not to say you have to accept behavior you don’t agree with, but there are loving ways to tell someone they are not on the right path and it is possible to show love without stomping on the people you are helping.

I could go into a philosophical discussion here about how Christianity has been wrong before in the people it chose to persecute or exclude (remember the Crusades?), but that’s not my point today. My point is, if you believe in something, stand up for it.

There are a lot of Christians in our community doing just that. Creston’s food pantry was born out of a faith-based organization. Open Table is based in a church. We have teams from several churches and from churches that work together to send adults and teens to make the world a better place: Appalachian Service Project, Guatemala mission trips, local projects to help out the sick, poor and lonely, volunteers from churches who visit nursing homes and shut-ins. The list goes on.

Not always — we don’t have a monopoly on doing good — but many times if you look into who is doing the loving and helping and volunteering in our town, you will find a Christian behind it.

Christians, our voices must be louder than the voice of hate. Sometimes it goes against our nature to put our names on the things we do. We want to stay anonymous. But the fact is, the only way to fight a false view of Christianity spewed out with hate is to show the truth with our names stamped all over it.

Shadow, if you must keep sending letters, own it. Sign your name.

For the rest of us, if you don’t believe that hate is the way to change the world, stand up and say so. Put your name on it. It matters.

• • •

Let me know what matters to you at, 641-782-2141 ext. 6433, or write me a letter in c/o Creston News Advertiser, 503 W. Adams St., Creston, Iowa 50801.

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