A People Named ‘Sue’


In 1969, a song sung by country artist Johnny Cash became number one on the country charts. “A Boy Named Sue” tells the preposterous yet moving tale of a young man’s quest for revenge on an absent father whose only contribution to his entire life was naming him Sue, commonly a feminine name. The name was the cause of endless ridicule as the young man was growing up. As the years went on, Sue grew big, strong and fearsome from all the fights he got into with bullies. At the climax of the song, Sue finds and confronts his father, and the two get into a vicious brawl. After the two have beaten each other almost senseless, Sue’s father admits that the name was given to him as an act of love: because he knew he would not be there for his son, Sue’s father gave him that name to make sure that he grew up strong. Learning this, Sue forgives his father and they have an emotional reconciliation . (Wikipedia )

Sometimes I remember growing up as a Mormon boy and thinking, “I believe the church is true, but it is so hard to live it as a teenager. Couldn’t I have been favored by the Lord to receive it when I was just a little bit older! Maybe, 25 or 30! Growing up and living as a “boy named Sue” was tough at times. I  always felt a little different; never quite fitting in with my friends. And although I felt their respect at times, knowing that some of the other kids thought my religion was a bit “peculiar” created a bit of uneasiness. Yes, life among “a people named Sue” could be rough at times!

However, as I grew to maturity, I began to see that the name that Heavenly Father gave to my people and to me, was given as  a gift out of love.  The commandments, meetings, and priesthood were making me a better and stronger boy, day by day. I had to stand up for what I believed. I learned to be proud to be a “boy named Sue”. I now look back and feel blessed that I was taught good principles at a young age by my parents,  and that I didn’t develop bad habits that I have seen destroy the lives of so many.  I guess I came to the same conclusion that Sue did. And that was that my Heavenly Father loved me and couldn’t be with me,  so he gave me that name, Mormon, so that I would grow up strong.  Later, as each of my five kids came along I knew it would be tough on them being a member of the church in an area where there were so few of our faith. Sometimes I would want to say as did Sue in his closing line of the song:

“And if I ever have a son, I think I’m gonna name him . . . Bill or George, any damn thing but Sue! I still hate that name!”

Yet, I knew that, in the end, they would become stronger in the gospel of Christ by facing  and overcoming opposition. I hope that they have now reached the level of maturity to see the love that our Heavenly Father has for each of them by blessing them with their faith.  And that, even though I knew it would be tough on them growing up “as a boy named Sue”, I hope that they now look back and know that I  too love them and passed along to them that name, because I knew it was a name that was true and of the Lord.

The followers of Christ have always been a bit “peculiar” and out of step with the world.  And that is because oft-times, the stepping of the world is out of line with the teachings of God.  As a grown man I am now so grateful that I was raised as a boy named Sue, and if I had to go back in time and have another name, it would not be “Bill or George, or any damn thing”. Because long ago I came to love the name Sue, and I wouldn’t want it any other way!


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