The Anonymous Recipient

Recently I took two of my kids to get their haircut. After giving the nice lady behind the counter their names, we sat down in the waiting area just two steps away. Not long after a man comes in with his young son. I’d guess the boy was probably 5 years old or so. The lady who had just helped me was occupied when the man and boy came in, but greeted them and told them nicely she’d be right with them.

So far.  So good.

When she returns to the front counter anonymous recipienthowever, this is where the plot commences to thicken.

The nice lady smiles warmly, greets the man and asks, “What is your name?” (A standard question asks to every customer so that their name is put on the list of who’s getting their hair cut next.)

The man looks back at her and simply shrugs.  Clearly he heard her, but clearly wasn’t answering the seemingly simple question. She tried again. “Your name?”  He shrugged again.  *Shrug.*

She tried another tactic, “You can give me ANY name.”

With an irritated look up and away at the ceiling of that hair cut place he replied, “Winnie the Pooh.”

Without another word, the nice lady typed (presumably) “Winnie the Pooh” into her computer and turned to walk away.

Within 60 seconds I heard the man say to his young son in a conspicuously loud tone, “I know I’m not Winnie the Pooh, but I don’t think a business needs to know anything about me in order for me to take advantage of their services.”

I thought to myself, “Geez guy, conspiracy theorize much?” As if the Hair Cuttery is really a false front to some governmental underground personal information farming. As if the nice ladies who clip your hair are covert operatives with no other objective then to sell you gel while they leach every bit of identifying information from you they possibly can. Yeah. I bet that’s it. “Hey Jason Bourne, you might want to consider taking it down a notch or two. Your son might end up as kooked out as you seem to be.” That’s what I thought to myself.

And then I thought other things to myself. Things less to do with “Pooh” over there and more to do with how some people approach God in a similar way. Let me explain. It seems we’re totally fine taking what God gives us freely, but not as keen on the idea of letting Him get close enough to be Lord. In our own way, we live the snarky attitude of “I don’t think God needs to know anything about me or have any part of my life in order for me to take advantage of his services.” So, they slip in to the church service, collect their “I feel good cuz I went to church” feeling and slink out the door; unconnected, unnoticed, unknowing, and anonymous. This approach is also handy if you happen to find that whole “spiritual community” and “fellowship” and “bear with one another” and “unity” thing the Bible endorses (commands actually) to be not quite your thing.

I’ll spare you the history lesson on the Industrial Revolution and how that got us sliding down a slippery slope of disconnectedness, isolation, and ultimately a thinly veiled anonymity. But I will say this:

Anonymity is a dangerous thing. It lets you keep others at arm’s length while your soul withers from starvation of the things that it actually needs to survive and thrive. When we approach God with a spiritual ski mask on, insist he shove the grace in the bag in small, unmarked bills and we bolt out the door into our hectic, streamlined, anonymous lives, we are truly only fooling ourselves.

Besides, few things are more pathetic and dangerous than being so delusional that you call yourself Winnie the Pooh in a strip mall Hair Cuttery.

So ask yourself…

  1. Where do I need to let God and others get closer to knowing who I am?
  2. What sins are making up the walls I’ve constructed in hopes of keeping myself safe from judgment?
  3. Who is one person right now that I would allow to know my name, my story, my fears, and my hopes?

Bonus question for the comment section: Why do you think American culture has drifted as it has to isolationism?