Her name was Narcissus. Yeah, yeah she already knew what the name implied. She knew how closely related her name was to the word narcissist; she’d been hearing it her whole life.
Narcissus never met the grandmother she was named after, but she imagined if she were still alive, she would’ve discouraged her son and daughter-in-law from passing on the curse of such a name. A generic name like Mary or Charlotte would’ve been much kinder.
People assumed that Narcissus was selfish and conceited. They picked her last for groups and games, and nobody ever wanted to know her opinion on anything. Whenever she tried to share information about herself, her peers scoffed and said, “It’s not all about you, Narcissus”—with exaggerated emphasis on her name.
Narcissus tried nicknames, but they never stuck. It seemed people loved her name as much as they hated her. So she worked hard to disprove her name. She became a good listener and talked very little about herself. To prove she wasn’t selfish and egotistical, she made herself a servant to others, always going the extra mile.
When she started attending church, she believed she would find a more receptive audience, but they were wary of her. It was a stab in the heart to be prejudged by people preaching love and acceptance.
But God was gracious. Oh, happy was the day when she happened upon the passage in the bible that mentioned her name! It said right there in Romans 16:11: Greet them that be of the household of Narcissus, which are in the Lord.
In the Lord. See, not a self-centered egomaniac. It changed everything. Now whenever people brought attention to her name, she could say her name was in the Bible referencing a person who was in the household of faith, a person who belonged to God.
After that, Narcissus researched other meanings or references to her name. She discovered that Narcissus was also a flower. Proof there was more to her name than what people subscribed.
So when the customer in IHOP said, I was telling my friend your name was Narcissus and she said I must’ve read your name tag wrong, Narcissus was able to smile and reply, “Why, yes, that is my name.”
And she was able to go on and on about the true meaning of her name. She told the two women about the scriptural passage and encouraged them to look it up. Then she described the flower in detail.
When Narcissus caught the woman glance at her friend with an amused grin, she gritted her teeth and avoided eye contact with her scoffer and continued her rehearsed oration to the other woman. She pretended the woman wasn’t sitting there mocking her, judging her. She ignored the taunting smile curled on the woman’s lips and went on to describe in detail how she had three children she raised all by herself in the fear and admonition of the Lord, and now they all had degrees and were successful.
“Please let me know if you need anything,” she said when she was done. Then Narcissus grinned as she walked away sure she had wiped that smug look off the customer’s face.
© D.L. Lunsford