My parents cursed me but didn’t know it. They cursed me, not because I despised the name Marvin, which I did, but because Marvin is my first name. If there is anything about my life I could change it would be to reverse my names, so that I am now Stephen Marvin Davis.
Some of you have cursed your kids as well, by making their middle name the name they go by. Why did you do it? Oh, I know, temporary insanity in the hospital after two days of labor and no sleep. But if you did that to your kids on a good nights sleep and with reasonable mental capacities, then shame on you. I promise you, some day, they will ask you why you did it.
I have spent way too much time this past year in hospitals and doctor’s offices. I have filled out a zillion forms, all of which have a space for first name, last name, and then a spot the size of a South Georgia gnat, to write your middle name. And on all these forms, there is never a place that says, “Name you go by.”
I dreaded the first day of school because the teacher would call roll and inevitably say, “Marvin Davis.” I wanted to crawl under my desk and come out in May. I always would sheepishly raise my hand and say, “I go by Steve.”
And now, whenever I go to the doctor, when they call me back from the waiting room the attendant will come to the door and say, “Marvin Davis.” I swear it takes me back to school days. Only now I don’t say “I go by Steve.” I just mutter under my breath (the words wringing with sarcasm), “Thanks mom and dad.”
It must have been the thing to do back when my parents had kids. I have three brothers, and we all go by our middle name. I am proud to say that our two kids go by their first name, though they will never thank me for it. They will never thank me because they will never have the problems with forms that I have had, nor have the doctor’s office attendant call them by the wrong name, nor have a teacher at school embarrass them on the first day. No, they will avoid all that because we did the right thing; we blessed our kids with a first name to go by.
I haven’t done this parenting thing without making mistakes, but I did get the name thing right. Truth is, I had great parents, who did so much right in raising their four boys. So, I think I can forgive them for the middle name mess up.
Our savior had a name he went by—Jesus. It was about as common a name as one could have, sort of like, well, sort of like Steve. I think it was God’s way of saying to us that he is one of us, God in human flesh. He also had a title, Christ. Some folk mistakenly think that Christ is his middle name. It means Messiah and was a title added to his common name.
I have titles such as pastor or Rev, but you can just call me Steve. Steve is just fine. That is the name I go by.
And I don’t answer to Marvin, unless, of course, I am in the doctor’s office.