You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Till It’s Gone

This evening, after getting home, I saw an e-mail from one of the daily devotionals I get that spoke airily about the value of a good name. Honor and reputation is something I muse over often, if unsuccessfully, because I feel myself at a loss to preserve a good name in the midst of the complexity of my life. If not every day, at least then very often I am faced with entirely unexpected and very worrisome threats to and reminders about my reputation and my beleaguered sense of honor that make me despair of ever having a reputation that is above board and without question where it matters the most to me. To make things even more worrisome, I am at a loss for what I could have done better given my own personality and given the situations that I have been placed in, as there are only a few blunders I feel I have made, and nothing of a nature to merit the sort of response that has occurred. None of this gives me a great deal of confidence that matters will speedily improve.

It’s hard to know exactly when and where things went south. Between 2006 and 2011 I was in the grips of terrible major depression, during which time life was difficult on a lot of fronts. In 2010, during a major crisis in the church organization where I attend, I felt under a great deal of constant assault by those who had different organizational political opinions, and in retrospect I feel I was too fierce myself, and not cognizant enough or sensitive enough to the vulnerability and insecurity of the people I was daily arguing with. Soon after that ended I was off to Thailand, and that did not go particularly well, either to my peace of mine or to my good name. In retrospect, I have to wonder if it was indeed a massive blunder to go to Thailand in the first place, for although I am sure that I helped and inspired quite a few young people, it did me few favors in any area of my life, and it was certainly unwise of me to stay a second year, even if I could not have predicted the outcome from the outset. My time in Thailand revealed a lot about myself in the context of others, and what it revealed was not necessarily pretty, namely that being an awkward but decent person is no defense against the horrors this world has to bring.

Whenever and however it happened is somewhat irrelevant, as I am where I am. And yet in looking at my life I feel at a loss to understand how things will get better in the sort of permission paradox I am in. When one is looking for good work, one often faces the paradox that one needs experience to get a job but one needs a job to get experience. The same is true in terms of relationships and reputation. My biggest goal in my personal life is to find myself in a godly relationship making its way towards marriage, and nothing about my reputation is aiding me in that quest. Worse, I don’t know what I can do about this, or if anything can be done except to wait it out and make things that much more difficult for myself as time goes on. No doubt this is a problem for others, which is why one sees people acting in the way that they do, pursuing their goals without any thought to their good name, and making and unmaking relationships in the most alarming ways.

A good name is valuable, but it takes a long time to build and it can be lost with stunning severity and quickness, often vastly disproportionate to one’s own behavior. It depends on the judgement of others about one’s actions, and it is hard to put oneself in the place of judgmental others. There are people, for example, who do not recognize at all my own sensitivity to the patterns of behavior of others or their nonverbal communication. So, in their eyes I would have the reputation of being socially clueless, even where this is far from the case. Other areas of my own reputation are scarcely more accurate, yet if people do not see what is there to be seen, or cannot read what is there to be written, then they simply miss out on opportunities to learn and to judge correctly. Given my lack of trust in other people, it is hard for me to have faith that others will be both kind and just to me, or even either. Yet somehow I wonder if the only way out of this morass is through trust in God, for certainly matters are beyond my power to make right, as much as I would like to.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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7 Responses to You Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Till It’s Gone

  1. Your last sentence is the key. You were meant to go to Thailand just as you were meant to be a fierce soldier in the righteous fight from 2006-2010. Certainly, in the 20/20 vision of hindsight, we second-guess the way we behaved during those extraordinary times, but we must also realize that our purpose is often for the benefit and example to others–at our own cost. Without realizing it, you exercised Godly free choice, for such is all about self-sacrifice. There may have been times when the dialogue may have been too personal or the words too bombastic, but God looks on the heart. He recognizes where the battle comes from and what you meant. Dr. Martin Luther King once said, “Justice delayed is justice denied” but he was as wrong as wrong can possibly be. God will render perfect justice in His perfect time–especially for those who have waited so long and have been so longsuffering in the interim. In the meantime, your introspection serves you well, for the next time the battle must be furiously fought–and there WILL be a next time–you will know how to comport yourself as a seasoned Christian soldier. Your armor will be tried and true, as long as you do not give up this internal fight, keep to those fruits of the Holy Spirit, and wait–like King David spoke of so eloquently–on God. He is our Deliverer and our Strength. It is a struggle, but you do not walk alone. Others simply are not as open as you are when it comes to talking about such sensitive things. They silently think of you as their champion. I know this because several have come to me and told me about how much they admired how you took on the spurious and rebellious-natured rebellion several years ago. I still hear about it to this day.

    I hope this helps. Even though it doesn’t solve the angst of your physical reality–which easily spills into the emotional and mental one–it can be a salve to assuage the hurting. Things are meant to be as they are for the time being. It’s tough to give it over, especially when things always tend to go amiss, people believe the worst, and the loneliness really gets to you–but God is faithful and we make it harder on ourselves when we kick against the pricks.

    • It is easy to say something is meant to be. Certainly it was allowed for a purpose, but whether it was foreordained is not something I have enough information to safely claim at this point. God allows a lot of human bungling that He does not directly plan.

      • On the contrary, it is not easy to say that something is meant to be. What I hear you saying–and what I totally agree with–is that our current reality is often a bitter pill to swallow. We are of the same mind when we speak of our history in the framework of a Divine purpose. When I speak of Divinely meant, I’m referring to the step-by-step growth in our development toward perfection–an active progression. Your take of God’s allowing it to occur speaks more of a passive influence.

        The way we think, speak and behave now has much to do with how we view God’s direct intervention in our past history. If we recognize His Hand in those events–such as the 2006-2010 rebellion–the time when you actively and passionately defended the scriptures and God’s authority, as well as your own reputation–then we know Him in an intimate way and walk in light. I remember that some of the attacks became personal and that the language was too harsh. But don’t forget that the apostle Paul was slapped for crossing the line by defaming the high priest to his face. So, if you really want to think about it, you’re in good company. The secret is to learn from the experience. This encounter was not recorded in scripture as a case of human bungling; it is there as a reminder that we are to take the high road, regardless. We attack the issue, not the person.

        I know the viewpoints of some who were offended by the way you took on those who misapplied scripture or used unflattering adjectives to describe your personality during those very heated and hate-filled times. Those things are on them, not you. It is your choice on how to look at these things–do you agree with these people and become guilt-ridden for the mistakes you made, or do you see God’s direct influence on your life and give yourself over to Him? If you do the latter and ask Him to guide you in the continual fight–the internal as well as external–using your natural strengths couched in His spiritual armor–then the fog will begin to lift. This is how to change the real self into a positive being.

      • My goal was to remind myself to take the high road, and I do believe God has a purpose for this, but I don’t see it yet.

      •  Hi Nathan,  It sounds as though you recently lost a friendship over this.  I hope that’s not the case. Love,MOM

      • Your assumption is unfortunately correct.

  2. Pingback: If I Was Half A Man, I Wouldn’t Sleep Alone | Edge Induced Cohesion

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