Have you ever thought about reputations? Or others’, specifically?
Look around and you’ll notice that everyone around you has a reputation. Ben is funny. Billy’s the class clown. Annie is a bit socially awkward. Leah is preppy and always has the latest Hollister clothes.
When you go to a new school, you quickly learn you have a reputation to make and keep. You act how you want to be known: cool, smart, funny, athletic. You build up a reputation, even if you’re not trying to. You may be the person who’s always alone or the “innocent” one who doesn’t swear or party. You may be the cool guy who does the opposite of that. You may be accepted into the common social group because you gossip and constantly talk about boys. Or you may be the outcast because you aren’t into makeup, boys or gossip. You may be the smart kid who gets straight As. Regardless of how you act, you are building a reputation.
Even if you don’t try to establish a certain reputation, you’ll get one. It doesn’t have to be obvious — but it’s essentially what other people think of you as or consider you. You get a reputation by your actions whether you try to or not.
There’s no escaping reputations. They’re everywhere — school, church, the workplace.
We tend to accept those with the “good” reputations. Cool, normal-acting, smart, funny. But we tend to not hang out with those who have “bad” reputations: nerdy, weird, awkward.
God calls us to accept everyone because they’re human. Because they’re loved by God. Even those without reputations. God doesn’t say, “Love your normal neighbor as yourself.” He says “Love your neighbor as yourself,” regardless of their reputation.
Furthermore, try not to give anyone a “reputation.” Try to not brand them by a certain characteristic. Instead, when you meet someone new, think, “I’m going to accept this person.” Not, “If they’re funny, I’ll probably hang out with them more than if they are serious.” Try not to think of someone as a certain characteristic; instead, accept them regardless of their personality.
I challenge you to think of one of your friends who some may consider “socially awkward.” Instead of hanging out with your “cool” friend, hang out with them. Look beyond their “social awkwardness” and look into their heart. You may be surprised by what you find. 🙂