Some memories stay put like a heavy duty thumbtack. Maybe we don’t realize it then, but they become catalysts in our lives.

I still remember standing in my boss’s cubicle nearly two decades ago. I was in corporate sales and reading in whatever spare moments of downtime I could grab. When my manager suggested I read this specific book, it caught me off guard and caused a heavy dose of skepticism.

He said, “As part of your career growth, I want you to read How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie.”

I’m pretty sure raised and lowered eyebrows revealed my thoughts. He responded accordingly. “I know. It’s a cheesy title, but it’s really good. Give it a try.”

Admittedly, it took a little while to get into it. I kept anticipating a lot of trickery in getting others to like you and do what you wanted. However, I remember catching myself smiling and nodding several times as I read.

Overall, I came away energized and encouraged to reach beyond my comfort zone. My ability to think empathically was enlargened. I found a number of ideas helpful as they reminded me to live with consideration for the people I see in my everyday ordinary.

One idea in particular stuck firm in my heart— the concept of calling people by name. Seems simple, doesn’t it?

Yet, I’d been overlooking many powerful opportunities to do this. It was time to embrace this appealing idea. Not so much for success-oriented motivations, but for one simple reason— we all have a God-given desire to be seen, known, and loved.

Being given a name, and then addressed by our appointed name, is something which strikes a chord deep inside every human. It’s personal. It’s relational. It’s meaningful. It’s a glimpse into the goodness of God who calls us by name.

But now thus says the Lord, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. ~ Isaiah 43:1

When someone takes notice, suddenly our lives are connected to theirs, if even for a brief moment. To see, know, and love others is to partake in the love of Christ for all of us.

For nearly two decades now I’ve been more intentional when I’m out and about. I look for name tags so I can meet someone’s eyes and attempt some level of interpersonal contact.

Maybe a simple “Thank you, Carlos” will do, or “Hi, Brenda, I hope your day is going well.” It doesn’t take much to recognize another person and acknowledge their presence.

I’m amazed at the simplicity of this act which carries with it blessings for those who give and receive.

Not everyone receives this kind of attention well. Maybe they’ve had a hard day, or they’ve become discouraged with their lot in life. Having someone attend to them doesn’t feel good in the moment. It’s not up to us how another person responds or reacts to a gesture of kindness, but it is up to us to share God’s goodness with the world we live in. Loving one another might begin through the simple act of calling them by name.

More often than not, people are glad to engage with a friendly person. A smile, a warm greeting, and the connecting of eyes can be the bright spot in my day, and hopefully theirs.

Since reading that book so many years ago, our world has become more distracted. With the demands of others readily pinging us via our phones and devices, it’s easy to run from place to place and not remember a single face or notice another valued human being. I don’t want that. I want to remember this simple gesture as a way of living with intention. I need to remember this world is full of others who have the same basic human needs as me.

When I’m feeling gloomy and distraught, I want to remember to look up and smile.

When I’m busy and fitting too many things in my schedule, I want to see others and remember they’re busy too.

When I’m longing to scroll through my phone in the check out line, I want to choose presence with those around me.

I want to see, know, and love those around me even if our lives cross for only a little while. Because every time I do, I’m reminded I’m seen, known, and loved too.

Jolene Underwood / Posts / Blog
Jolene Underwood is a faith warrior acquainted with many of life’s challenges as well as God's healing work. She is passionate about cultivating a life well-lived, because she knows the power of God to revive weary souls. She believes a well-lived life is one that goes from surviving to thriving, no matter what the circumstances are. Join her conversations of encouragement & faith at and on social media at @theJoleneU
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    Michele Morin

    Jolene, this is so do-able! Thanks for this challenge to be more present — even to those whose names I need only for the few seconds it takes to say them. It’s a good reminder to me that God knows them by name — and He doesn’t need name tags.

    February 1st, 2017 9:51
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      Jolene Underwood

      Isn’t it, Michele?! I tend to get caught up with thinking about big things, while all along I miss the simple things. I’m sure your smile and passionate heart bless many.

      February 1st, 2017 12:01
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    Cheryl Powers

    Lovely! and so simple. TX!

    February 1st, 2017 10:24
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    Jilene Williams

    Hi Jolene!
    This is my first time reading anything from you. Wonderful article! I had a similar experience forty years ago while working for Red Lobster Inns of America headquarters in Orlando, FL. They engaged the ever popular Zig Ziglar to speak to us. About this same time I was introduced to the book, “The Greatest Salesman in the World” by Og Mandino. I hated to read as I was a very slow reader, but I devoured the book. Then I went out and bought ten copies to give away, much to the dismay of my sweet husband.
    Fast forward! Several years ago, I took up calligraphy and started making framed name and name meaning plaques. I learned many name meanings over the years. Now I have the wonderful opportunity to say to the wearers of many name tags, “Do you know what your name means?” Some beautiful conversations have ensued and I walk away with some dear hugs leaving some terrific smiles behind me. You are so right. GOD uses open eyes, warm hearts and willing tongues to bless the world. Keep up the good work!

    February 1st, 2017 17:02
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      Jolene Underwood

      Wow, thank you so much for your good words and for sharing how God is using your new passion in calligraphy to be a blessing! A few years ago I created name plaques for our foster children. It included their name, name meaning, and verses. Hearing your heart for this is encouraging!

      February 2nd, 2017 8:05
  • Jody Collins
    Jody Collins

    Jolene you are so right on… I know it makes me feel to be seen when someone says my name. Great reminder.

    February 1st, 2017 18:18
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      Jolene Underwood

      Thank you, Jody. I appreciate you sharing how meaningful it is to you, too.

      February 2nd, 2017 8:03
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    Such a perfect message in my inbox today! Thank you for this beautiful piece you have shared. I will really up my efforts in this area! So simple and yet I know how effective because I have been called by name.

    February 1st, 2017 18:39

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