I often mentally replay recently-had conversations. Sometimes they play over and over to the point of sleeplessness and not really being present with those who are in the room with me. I critique myself every time I replay it, wondering if there’s anything I said that could make them think I’m odd, or mean, or anxious, things I’m fully capable of being at any time, but that I don’t necessarily want to be. It’s time that I evaluate myself (isn’t it ironic?) to figure out why I do this.
One thing I notice is that it always involves someone I don’t converse with on a daily basis, someone who will have time to let it sink in what their thoughts are of me based on that conversation. Another thing I notice is that it is always someone that I really want to like me, such as someone with similar interests to me, a fellow church member, or a newer friend.
One thing I forget: Olin Miller said, “You probably wouldn’t worry about what people think of you if you could know how seldom they do.” This hurts my pride a little, but in most cases it’s probably the truth. I forget how small I really am. I’m a jogger you pass on your morning commute. You see me and acknowledge me, but I’m only in your eyesight for a moment. You have your own things to deal with and your own work to get done. You don’t slam on the brakes to check my running technique or gauge my speed.
Simply, I have an elevated view of myself, and I want others to have that view of me, too. That’s why I care what others think of me. That’s why I care about how people interpret what I say. That’s why I over-analyze these conversations. As the Cardigans sing in one of the best pop singles of the 90’s, “Love me, love me, say that you love me.” That’s what this really comes down to, isn’t it? Selfishness. Me. Me. Me. I need to remember what Charles Spurgeon said, “If any man thinks ill of you, do not be angry with him, for you are worse than he thinks you to be.” I am but a sinner, not worthy of the adoration of man. The praises should be heaped only upon God.
It is good to examine yourself, the Bible commands it (2 Corinthians 13:5), but the reason is not to check your relation to man, it is to check your relation to God. If we focus on our relationship with God, and love Him and others as he commands us, we have no reason to be anxious about how others perceive us. If our focus is on God, others will see that as they interact with us, and hopefully they will set their gaze on Him as well.