Some people have a great ability to remember faces and names; unfortunately I’m not one of those people. One of the most troubling and indeed embarrassing encounters begins with someone calling your name then they begin to speak to you as if they knew you from childhood.
Firstly I try to hide my blank expression and panic internally as I search for clues to the person’s identity. Searching the memory banks I try to figure out, did I baptism their child, conduct the funeral of a relative or friend, meet them in hospital or anoint them, marry them, visit them, or shake hands with a second cousin? I could have met them in a social setting, or maybe I knew this person from school or club, this individual might even be friends with some member of my family. I have good days and bad days when it comes to my memory. I reassuringly tell myself how forgetfulness is a coping mechanism, and then I forget I’ve told myself this.
So as I shift about nervously through the course of a conversation with a relative stranger I try to bluff as best I can. Searching for some verbal clue I hope the person will mention their own name in the course of their monologue. I’ll ask safe questions like; how have you been? How long is it since we’ve seen each other? Where was the last time we met? Then you hear the dreaded words ‘you don’t remember me, do you?’ You might be tempted to say ‘of course I do.’ Only for the person to play the ultimate trump card by asking, ‘what’s my name?’
When I meet people I warn them I have a terrible memory. When I meet a couple planning a wedding or christening, I advise the interested parties to phone or text early and often and especially on the day of the occasion or meeting. Reassuringly I explain I might seem confused and unsure who they are but eventually with a few clues the penny will drop. Generally there is nothing as reassuring as hearing a familiar voice or seeing a friendly face. We relax and let down our guard when were greeted by someone we know.
The voices we recognise and find comforting come from the people we trust, know and love. So when the people we admire and respect speak, we find ourselves listening even when they voice some uncomfortable truths. It’s never easy trying to discern where we can discover God’s voice in our lives. God can be found in the most unlikely places and circumstances. Above all we need to be patient and recognise the truth of any given situation.
God can speak to us through friend or foe, family or complete stranger. God reveals his will through both the joyous and tragic events. The key is being able to spend time with God in prayer so we can recognise his voice and his know his face amid the hustle and bustle of life. By making time to build a relationship with God can we recognise the Good Shepherd and be guided into the fold.