What Others Think

What Others Think

What Others Think                               September, 2017

The roadside computer readout flashed that I was doing 45 miles per hour but then there was a curve in the road. I was still doing 45 mph, but now the computer said I was doing 42 mph. Here’s the difference. If I am going straight at it, the computer reads my true speed. If I’m going 100% away from the computer, it reads as a negative 45 mph. When I am at an angle to it, it’s going to give me a reading somewhere between those two. If I could drive around it in a perfect circle, it would say I was going zero miles per hour.

It is the same way with people. I know what I am personally accomplishing today. How fast I’m getting this task done or not getting it done is very apparent to me.   It may not be that easy for others to see what I know about my progress. They are not as objective as that traffic computer beside the road. They have their own concerns, joys, rewards, trials, celebrations, and vacations in mind which will color how they see me and what I am achieving.

Let’s look at an extreme. I have a friend in prison. Can you imagine what people think about him? Whether their thoughts are true or not, what they think does not change the truth about who he is, what he’s doing, and how quickly he is getting it done. There’s a lot more going on for him than one would guess.   People’s ability to visit my friend, as you can imagine, is quite difficult. If I am lucky, I get to see him once every three months. In a way, he has to quit caring what other people think in order to carry on with life. If he spent all of his time (his life) thinking about others’ opinions, he would truly be stuck.

You and I must care to some degree about what others think. It is part of our commerce, our family, our friendly relationships, our organizations, and our social media platforms. As vital as these perceptions of us are, there is another to whom we must answer.

We know we have to care even more about what our Maker thinks of us. So how do we balance this?   Most of us do not have the luxury, which I will explain in another article one day, of becoming nuns or monks. Nor, at the other end of the spectrum, can we just do whatever comes to mind. Somewhere between those poles is a space that is right for each of us. The world wants you to be one person and the Master wants you to be someone different, often radically different. Only you can reflect upon, pray about, and decide what is right for you with your unique skills.

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