I Am Not My Starbucks Cup
A couple of years ago, I was wandering around a mall holding my Starbucks Venti Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte. I wandered into a store and one of the employees working there, called out to me. "Leon!" he exclaimed. "How've you been, man? What's happening? So good to see you, Leon."
I was taken aback, and started searching my memory banks for any clue that might tell me who the guy was. "I'm good, dude." I said slowly. "How have things been with you?"
"Leon," the guy replied, "things have been so good, I can't even complain." I finally broke down. "Do I know you, dude? How do you know who I am?" He laughed and pointed at my Starbucks cup. "It's on your cup, man." Sure enough, there on the top of my cup was my name printed in large black letters by the barista just a few moments before.
That guy taught me a valuable lesson, however. For a few brief moments I thought of a bunch of ways that he would have known who I was. Here are just a few: 1) He bought my book 2) We are friends on Facebook 3) He follows my blog 4) He has seen video of me preaching 5) He's read stories in a newspaper where I was interviewed 6) He saw a recent television news story about me and my church. 7) He's attended my church at some point.
The truth is, I wanted the guy to know me for those kinds of reasons. Those were the first things that went through my head, in fact. They represented many of the things I had done to make myself known to others.
And when I realized the guy knew my name because of my silly cup---I felt a weird kind of sadness wash over me.
I believe in the end, what each of us really wants is to be truly known. Further, I believe that each of us secretly hopes that if we are truly known, it might give us some concrete evidence that we are not alone in the universe.
One of my favorite poets, Dobby Gibson, once wrote: "We think we are little gods/yet the one thing we fear most is to be left alone." Novelist Reynolds Price echoed this for people of faith when he wrote that the "one sentence" human beings crave to hear is simply this: "The Maker of all things loves and wants me."
Jesus often taught about the relentless love of God. In John 10:29 we hear him say in front of his followers: "My Father, who has given [my disciples] to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father's hand." Jesus parting words to his followers were that he would never leave or forsake them--words that we can claim and hold on to as well.
May you realize today and everyday that you are known and loved by God. May you be surrounded by the Creator's great love for you through his Son and by the power of the Spirit. May you know deep in your very soul that you are never, ever alone.