I have what seems to be a permanently blackened big toenail. As a tennis player, even with an oversized shoe, the quick stops jam my big toe and my problem persists. It doesn’t hurt, but it is ugly. Thankfully, there is an easy solution. A pedicure.
The New Establishment
Long overdue and armed with a coupon, I ventured to a new nail salon. Not untypical the place was teaming with non-native English speakers. And this shop I learned was mostly Vietnamese.
I picked out my color and was guided to a tub of warm water to soak in while waiting for my person. She arrived. Her eyes barely met mine as most of her face was covered by a large white hospital mask. She was petite and while I couldn’t be sure, she looked so very young. I wondered if she was even 16. Avoiding my eye contact, she went to work chatting at a fast clip to her Vietnamese colleagues on either side of us.
As I sat there, in my own world being pampered, the scene bothered me. I couldn’t put my finger on it. But as I dug out my earphones to tune out completely and enjoy my audible book, my mind just wouldn’t let it go.
What’s your name?
Maybe I was just bugged to be left out of the conversation? So… boldly and loudly, I interjected, “What is your name?” Startled, the young gal paused and looked left and right. The matronly woman next to her, nodded as if to reassure her.
For the first time the girl’s big black eyes met mine. Even with most of her face covered her smile was unmistakable. Her eyes sparkled, her eyebrows lifted, her body straightened and her demeanor completely changed. The girl dropped her instruments and pulled off her mask. Her face lit the room. In that moment she reacted as if I told her she had just won the lottery.
Somewhat uncomfortable with the awkwardness of the moment, I spoke first, “my name is Debbie.” In very halting English she responded, my name Qua tang. (Sounded like, “Kwa, tonnng). I repeated what I heard and she giggled. I tried again. Finally after several missed attempts, we both decided, that I was close enough.
It felt as if we had crossed an unspoken protocol barrier. I noticed that the Ellen show on TV was no longer the center of attention.
Since the ice had been broken, I couldn’t retreat now. Tucking away my headphones I asked her to spell her name on my phone. Apparently, Qua Tang was new on the job and eager to practice her English.
While she worked on my toes, I did my best to converse, with the help of google translate. She thanked me again and again and again. The mask never returned and, not thinking it was possible, her smile and enthusiasm grew.
A New Name
Newly relocated to Albuquerque, Qua Tang is considering a new “American” name. No one gets hers right, so why not she says?
Growing up, I didn’t like my name either. Deborah. To me it was stiff and formal. When I was in trouble my mother would bellow… Deborah Lynn Roeshot! On the playground I was Debbie. And then, I’m not sure why, my brother Dave started calling me Dobbs which caught on with my closest friends. I didn’t particularly get the nickname, but I loved that I had one and would perk up when I heard it spoken by my closest circle. After all, they knew me. As insiders, they had earned the right to call me that.
The Name Dilemma
I thought more about young Qua Tang and her name dilemma. It reminded me of Isaiah 43:1.
Isaiah 43:1 ….“Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine”.
He called YOU by name
Have you ever considered that the God of the universe, the omnipotent, almighty creator of the heavens and the earth knows you by name? No other religion describes god to be so personal and intimate.
Our God is not just a transcendent being who stays distant from His creation. He is intimately connected to each one of His children. As part of our inner circle, He doesn’t just know us formally, but knows us by our most familiar name.
On a First-Name Basis
I understand it like this… God didn’t bellow from the heavens… Deborah Roeshot Hucke, as if I was in trouble. (Even though I was!) He wooed me by calling me by my special nickname. Dobbs. It took awhile for me to hear his voice. At first I did a double take not believing my ears! Only my family and dearest friends know me as Dobbs. And just like that, we’re on an informal, first-name basis. Me and Abba, Father. In that instant I am His with a new identity. What an amazing truth about the personal nature of my Heavenly Father.
Even more significant as God and I hang out together, I’m blown away by the fact that He already knows everything about me. The realization can be a bit unnerving until I realize He loves me perfectly.
Psalm 139 1-4 . You have searched me, Lord, and you know me 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.
I looked up the meaning of Qua Tang. In English, it translates to Gift. She liked it. My suggestion is the winner, she declared. As I packed up my stuff to leave, trying to graciously deflect her overwhelming gratitude, I wondered why Gift had ditched her mask. Something tells me she felt seen and heard and is embracing her new identity.
“You are a gift, Gift. Thank you.” I said. I’m not sure she understood, but I left knowing that my two plus hours were divinely inspired, thanks to the nudge of the Holy Spirit.
My pedicure wasn’t all that great, but I plan to go back. Just so I can see Gift and call her by her new nickname. I think she’ll like that.
For His Glory, Debbie Hucke