Friday, August 16, 2013

What Other People Say About Me Is None of My Business

Someone once dear to me returned from one of his first meetings at Alcoholics Anonymous and reported that a woman there had made the statement, what other people say about me is none of my business. 

We laughed together at her ignorance, so sure of our superior wisdom.  Boy, were we stupid.  Turns out she was right, that wise AA old timer.

It can sound silly, can’t it?  If it’s not my business, whose on earth would it be?  Isn’t anything that’s about me by its very nature my business?  Sure.  But here’s the thing: what other people say about me isn’t about me at all.  It’s about them.  What they think.  How they see.  What they understand – or don’t.

What I speak of others betrays my mind, my heart, my deeds, not theirs.

It’s so freeing to be rid of the desire for reputation.  It’s freeing not to have to worry about the whispers of others.  It’s freeing not to have to respond to the accusations or assessments of others.  It’s freeing to allow others, as friend and pastor Mark Davis recently observed, to think anything they like about me . . . to judge however fairly or unfairly they will . . . to simply allow others to think that I am an idiot if they so choose and be none the worse for it.

What others think and say about me is none of my business.

Now that’s worthy of a cross-stitch.

I think I’ll add it, coming to a total of two my imperatives for this stage of my life:

1. I might be wrong.
2. What others say about me is none of my business.


“Who steals my purse, steals trash . . .  but he that filches from me my good name robs me of that which not enriches him and makes me poor indeed.”  –William Shakespeare [Iago in Othello].  The irony is that Iago means to do exactly that – steal the good reputation of Cassio in the eyes of Othello.

With enough courage, you can do without a reputation.  –Oscar Wilde

“Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:  Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:  But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men . . .”   –Philippians 2.5-7 (KJV).

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