Have you ever scrolled down your Facebook friends list and just thought about the people there? You have your “silly” friend–the one whose response is always hysterical. Your serious, reliable friend–the one who is more like a sister than a friend. I did that today, and it got me thinking, “Who am I to all of them?” Then I started thinking even more about what my reputation is to those who do not know me well. Am I known for any single trait? What would I WANT to be known for? Let me share with you what I found as I began to really reflect on what my reputation means.
First of all, I feel like we live in a society that praises individuality so strongly that we are almost afraid to admit we are concerned with our reputation. However, no matter how much we are not supposed to judge others or care what others think … we do. We always will. We as people are created to need and desire relationship, and that requires some level of sifting through in order to find out who we mesh with. The reality is that not everyone fits with you. Not everyone clicks with me. We use our perception of people to find out if we click or clash. Which means that we ARE concerned with how others see us; our reputation is simply a repeated and known version of how we are perceived.
I like to think of myself as a pretty consistent person. Kind of a “what you see is what you get” gal. I used to pretend to be someone I wasn’t, and I honestly believe if I had kept it up, it would’ve eventually killed me. Probably with a heart attack or stroke from all the stress it caused. I am still learning how to be me and be ok when I don’t mesh with someone or when their perception of me is different enough than what I see in myself to cause discord. I am a people pleaser. I struggle with saying no. I constantly worry if I have offended someone, and I almost always feel awkward with anyone other than my kids. I can be so strange with them and just not care. They laugh at Mommy and we move on. With them, I don’t feel like my dumping coffee all over myself in front of them is a reason to be embarrassed. They know I can’t walk in a straight line without tripping, and they can’t seem to either. And I don’t think about it with them.
But when I am out with you (I can pretty much guarantee I feel this way with you since there are like two people on the planet I don’t feel awkward with), I guarantee I am thinking about keeping myself upright/ not walking into a pole/ dropping my coffee/saying something lame. I’m getting better … there are the two people I am good at being ridiculous in front of now.
But I am trying and growing. I will tell you if I am angry with you. I promise. I spent too much of my life worrying if you are angry at me not to be honest with you. I am starting to open my door to my messy house instead of meeting you on the porch when you come by. I will probably apologize 500 times for the mess. I am really embarrassed, but I am also aware that I am just not a great housekeeper and writing this blog today just was more appealing than cleaning my house. If I tell you I am sorry, I am. I mean it and am probably sick over hurting you. I hate being hurtful. Intentional or otherwise. If I tell you I care, I do. Life is too short not to tell people that they mean something to you. If I say I miss you. I do. You have been on my mind, and I am mourning special times we had. It’s also my subtle way of asking for time with you. I won’t ask you outright. That would look codependent. I like it when you need me. I am much more comfortable being needed and serving you than I am just “being” with you. When I tell you I am praying for you, I really am. I utter the words with heartfelt hope and faith for you. God is so much better at helping you with whatever you need than I am, and I know that. So, I talk to Him on your behalf.
I know ALL of the above about myself … but I don’t know what my reputation is. You see, that part is behind the veil of what OTHERS see and seriously, I have no idea what you think of me. I am wayyyy too concerned with the mess in my own head to figure out yours!
The Bible says this about reputation :
Being respected is more important than having great riches. To be well thought of is better than silver or gold.–Proverbs 22:1 NCV
So, the question I have is this: what kind of a reputation do I want to have?
1) I want to be known for kindness vs. being impatient rude or unkind. This does not mean I will be kind all the time. I won’t be. But I can try really hard to be.
2) I want to be known for my love of others over my love of self. The only way I can show others the love of Christ is to act out that love in whatever way possible.
3) I want to be known for being gentle. I believe that you can be brave and gentle at the same time. I want my responses to be known for their gentleness. This one is the one I seem to struggle with the most. Pray for me with my Scots/Viking temper, people. My children and the Walmart checkout clerk thank you.
4) I want who I am and what I can do for others to bring joy. I want to be intentional with joy and to share a laugh with friends more often than to complain or spread irritation. It takes the same amount of energy to bless someone as it does to tear them down.
I KNOW without any doubt that I will fail at times. Because failure is inevitable when we are human. But a reputation is built on how we most often are. I can most often do my best to be the reputation I desire others see.
There is a quote I love by Ralph Waldo Emerson that says, “What you do speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you say.” How true. Basically, what I TRULY desire is that as I walk this earth I can be known as serving as the hands and feet of Jesus. Because what better reputation than the one who leads to the cross?
Kayla Wells was a member of Bigfork MOPS for 4 1/2 years and served on the steering team for 3 years. She is married to Dan and is a mom to three. You can find her at Mommy’s Soapbox.