Thursday, October 11, 2012
All of my life I was taught that all a man had in this world was his reputation, so I needed to guard and protect mine. In times of attack, it was my job to defend it and make known the truth in a situation. My reputation, so I was told, was the only thing I really "owned" in this world.
As it turns out, though, that's not really true. A reputation is something others create FOR you; not something you create for yourself, necessarily. Sometimes our actions contribute to a reputation but, I would argue, most of the time, our reputation is created by the talk of others. Whether the words spoken are true or not.
What I've learned is that people are going to talk. In spite of what I do or my intentions. There is not one thing I can do about that. There's not a single action I can take to prevent, convince or otherwise, stop, someone from thinking poorly or speaking poorly about me (of course, there is one thing - NOT give them a reason to do so). If my conduct has been appropriate and someone is still wanting to openly discuss me in a negative light to others... there isn't one darn-tootin' thing I can do about that. Sure, my reputation may be tainted by this; yep, others may thing less of me, however, that is out of my hands. I can't control what other says or think. More importantly, my reputation isn't worth defending.
Over the past two years, God has opened my eyes to this false belief that I held as truth for so long. He has shown me time and again that it is not MY reputation that I am called to defend; it is HIS. I have had my share of stings come from the false talk and accusations of others - drawing my reputation in a particular situation into question. It would hurt. It would upset me. It would make my blood boil, at times. And if I'm honest... I still have those reactions today, although, they are short-lived and given over to prayer more readily than in years past. Time and again, God keeps telling me my reputation is not worth defending. To take up offense on behalf of myself is actually quite conceded. Unless the reputation of Jesus is at stake, my reputation is not enough to warrant defense. It is not enough to climb into the ring with someone who is slinging mud and try to convince them that I am more than what they say I am.
And there is the truth... WHY? Why do I feel the need to try to convince someone that I am different than what they claim?? I think in part because I was programmed to "defend my reputation" but I also think it stems from the need to please and be accepted. God has been working on this area of my life too. A LOT.
In times of conflict, in the past, I've had this impulsive need to correct the untruth about me but now, I hand it over to God. And you know what?? He takes care of it... EVERY. TIME. HE defends and protects me. NOT me. He reveals the truth about my character and heart in HIS timing, NOT mine. He comforts and protects me from the slings and arrows of others' words. I don't try to do this myself anymore. As unnatural as it feels, I'm learning to run to the Lord in times like these and let Him dry my tears and extend forgiveness, even if ever so quietly in my heart, more easily. Without Him, I am an emotional wreak, seeking to lift up my reputation to the point of an idol. With Him, I submit to His will and His way which is far different than mine.
In the end, it is not our reputation that we "own" but it is our reputation that will "own" us if we believe it is our job to defend it. In the end, I stand behind my God, while slings and arrows that this world throws, fly all around me. Instead of picking up my bow and arrow, I step into the shadow of the One who promises protection and who took all the pain and suffering that I should have bore as His own. He stood in on my behalf once and He continues to do so all the days of my life.