I don’t have money or fame, and perhaps that is the reason why my reputation is so very important to me, and perhaps why it wounds so deeply when that reputation is challenged. And that is what happened yesterday—a person I had tried really hard to love and to support used my name as a door mat. I was appalled, astonished, uneasy. And, to be honest, I was even a bit mad.
This was the start my Monday was off to, and as I returned to my office, I couldn’t shake the angst-riddled feelings.
And then a coworker accidentally stepped on a bird.
Yeah, I know that transition makes no sense at that point in the narrative, but that is how life is, isn’t it? Not everything is a tidy transition—sometimes it is unexpected; sometimes it is messy. And speaking of messy, the scene that lay before us, out in front of our building, was horrendous. The bird had been dead—let me ease the minds of you animal lovers—but even so, it was not a sight for supple sensitivities. With the morning rain giving way to the Missouri humidity, the bird had grown quite ripe, prime for the wayward stomp. In the aftermath, the thing was all sinews and bloodshed.
I know this a gross description, but only because it WAS indeed gross. Why paint it with any other brush than the bloody one set before us? We scooped the broken little corpse into a Pringles can, cringing at the morbidity of it all. Then Ian, the friend in question, had to go change his shoes for all the bird he had gotten on them.
And then I returned to my office, and tried to return to my somber, reflective state. I tried to nurse my harmed ego, but all I could think about was Ian’s horror-stricken face the moment he realized that the thing beneath his shoe was indeed very much a bird (or at least it had been).
Try as I might, I could think of nothing else, and I guess that is when it hit me that there are bigger things in life than my overblown, ego-fed regard for reputation, even when those bigger things are small as a dead baby bird.
Maybe the person, like Ian, had stepped on my reputation on accident? Maybe she had to go change her shoes afterward too?
But honestly does it matter? Whether my reputation is sparkling or rubbish, does it make a difference?
Does a damaged reputation make me less mindful of doing what is right? Or does it make me more prone to do right to recover it? Because if my answer to either of those questions is yes, I have a sin in my life as odious as that smeared bird carcass. It is the people-pleasing monster of pride—the one that does right to be seen and to be applauded, and sulks when recognition isn’t up to its own perceived par.
Next time I worry about my own reputation, I’m going to think of Ian’s big clumsy foot and befuddled, grossed-out face. And then I’m going to smile, move on, and do right all the same, allowing the chips, birds, and my reputation to fall where they may. Also, I’m going to start watching where I step.