First Impressions and Assumptions

First Impressions and Assumptions


   You will encounter someone today, perhaps a total stranger. That person may ride beside you on a commuter train or stand in front of you at the grocery store. You may see them on the street corner or they may walk into your place of business. When you see someone for the first time you form a first impression; and then, you quietly make an assumption about that person’s life.

   Many of us are pretty wise and have lots of street-smart experience with the public. Many times we may peg people correctly. But on this day challenge yourself to meet a stranger and to try to overcome a negative first impression and false assumption.

   Beneath every disheveled person and glaring look is a life story. It is easy to put people into boxes by race, age, weight, ethnicity, dress and we may assume – undisciplined, arrogant, rude, poor, criminal… We assume a stranger is undesirable only to find that this person has just finished two straight shifts of manual labor without sleep in order to provide for an elderly relative or young children.

   We see outward wealth and beauty in a stranger and enviously desire their lot in life. Deeper delving finds that this person is recently divorced, unemployed and without a friend. They are abandoned and on their last leg of hope desperately hoping for the kindness of a stranger.

   People make first impressions when they see us too. What image do we project? What do you see when you look at me? My beauty is fleeting and sometimes my face can look tough. But looks are deceiving and it is easy to disguise heartbreak or pain.

   Part of living a good and faithful life is mastering the art of drilling deeper into our first impressions and dropping easily-made assumptions that tend to stereotype people by attractiveness, ethnicity, and status or even by their apparent lack of decorum.

   Jesus was the champion of looking through the outward shells of those he encountered. He did not judge the apparent but probed into the hearts and souls of even the lowliest to find great faith and deep love. Quickly judging others is easy to do and often deprives us of seeing the true gifts and basic needs in people of great character.

   Even people we casually know or work with can be people that we have already pegged wrongly through false assumptions. Get to know them in genuine concern today. Give others the benefit of the doubt. Give them a second chance to make a good first impression.

   For beneath the surface of every child of God lies something salvageable, loveable and good. Hopefully, someone will do that for us today as well. For each of us too needs a second chance to show someone who we really are and what we can really do.

   God did not make any junk! Find new treasure in those you encounter today!