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Highlight the Name
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Photo: Jonathan Ross
This summer I’m volunteering in the office of Habitat for Humanity, a great organization that helps provide individuals, who could not otherwise afford it, with the opportunity to own a home. My first task there was trivial--alphabetizing and filing. But, as much as I utterly dislike filing, it taught me something.

Before alphabetizing the documents, the woman I was helping gave me a bright yellow Sharpie and told me to highlight the name. After a few minutes of doing just that, it hit me. I was told to highlight the name of the individuals, not their income, ID number, or how much money they would bring to the company. I was told to highlight the name.

Our society has become subject to numbers. It’s all about how many customers a  company has, how much money a person is worth, how many people a church can baptize in a year. We’ve become so focused on numbers that we’ve forgotten about people.

As I highlighted, I found myself wondering about each name; what he was like, what his situation was, if she had any children, if she was shy and quiet or more on the extrovert side. And, as the days passed by, I heard employees at Habitat talk about the names that were now familiar to me. I also heard them pray for these people. It made me smile—these people weren’t just numbers—but it also made me wonder.

Personal Life

In my personal life, do I highlight the name? It’s not just businesses or churches that have forgotten about the individual, have I forgotten as well? It all depends on the intention with which I do things. When I help someone, am I mentally tallying how many times I have helped this individual? Am I thinking of how much this act of kindness is worth in how much this person owes me now? Or am I highlighting the name, thinking that the most important thing is this person, who they are and what they’re going through?

Do I remember to treat the people around me….as people? Sometimes it feels like the answer is no, and that I base my decisions, especially the things I say to others, on the situation. Not everyone will have the same response to the same situation, and I forget that a lot. I base my judgments, and the advice I give, on what people did instead of who they are.

It’s an interesting thought, one I haven’t quite figured out yet. But I’m trying to remember to consider the people around me at all times, in all things I do. Jesus Himself discarded the situations, caring only about the people and what was in their hearts. I pray that I may learn to do this as well, that I may keep first and foremost in my mind to forget the situation, and highlight the name.

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By Raquel Levy. Copyright © 2010 by
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