At First Glance

Yesterday I visited the hospital my son was born in twelve years ago for the very first time. This is an example of the odd things an adoptive mother can say. 
Here’s another. This is my first child but not my oldest child. 
How about this one? This is my son and his friend, they have the same sister but they aren’t related.
Over the last several days of doctor’s offices and hospitals I’ve had to more than once explain to folks that I am indeed my daughter’s mother. Many times while out shopping my family is mistaken as a group home. It wasn’t uncommon when they were younger for store clerks to ask my children where their momma was as they stood right beside me quietly waiting.
There was a time when I would have been frustrated with some of this but, I suppose the years have mellowed me. People just make assumptions based on what we can see with our eyes. My children don’t resemble me on the surface and at first glance we don’t always look like we belong to each other. That first glance is wrong. 
First glances can get you in a heap of trouble. You can come to conclusions based on first impressions that are as inaccurate as can be. I think this is especially the case when you’re viewing a person or a situation with a critical eye. You know, like when you say things like, ‘Yep, that’s just what I expected.’ Or ‘That’s how those people are.’ Or ‘They look like this so they must be like this.’ 
The truth is we’d be better off holding our tongues and keeping our opinions to ourselves than spewing off a bit of criticism. I despise people being lumped together and then boxed up by those determined that they know how all women are or all homeschoolers or all Christians or all anything. 
I’m unique. So are you. So is that person that appears to be so typical at first glance. I live in the Deep South but I don’t fit the mold that folks would assume I do. I’m a passionate, uncompromising Christian that can stand up for what I believe but, I may be very different than another committed Christian. I don’t need to make light of those who don’t talk like me, look like me, live like me or worship like me to prove my spiritual superiority. Neither do you. 
You know what I love? Diversity. I enjoy knowing and loving people who are different from me. I want to spend time with those who are much my senior and much my junior in age. I want to have friends from other cultures. I want to listen to those who have differing opinions than my own. I want to refuse to stay in ‘the box’ and refuse to try to put others in a box. I want to resist those first glance assumptions that rarely work out and often lead to mistaken identity.  
What is it that you think you’ve got all figured out? What is it that you’ll openly criticize to get a laugh or crowd approval from those you want to impress? What is it that you will scoff at so that you feel superior?
If you are a Christian you best rethink those first glances and remind yourself that God works in mysterious ways. If you can’t tolerate those who don’t agree with you, you better examine your heart and better yet, ask the Lord to. And for goodness sake, stop holding other Christians in such disdain. Do you really, for one moment think you know it all? Do you really think you have the right to judge another person’s heart? 
I wonder what would happen if Christians refused to criticize each other and left the correction to the Holy Spirit? I wonder what would happen if Christians stopped speaking condescendingly of each other and instead applied a little of the grace they’ve so generously received? Wonder if non-believers would respect us more, view us in a kinder light, be more open to hearing about our faith? Isn’t that the goal after all? To share this beautiful love we have discovered?
Last night as I waited for my daughter to come out of surgery (appendectomy), the hospital cleaning lady was working in the waiting room where I sat and we chatted a bit. She first commented about the scarf I was crocheting and then it wasn’t long that she knew a little about me and I knew a little about her. Just a little. She is 23 years old, she has no children but she has a God-son, she’s an Auburn fan, she always wanted to learn to crochet. As she left the area she said, “I know I don’t really know you but, I can just tell, you’re a nice lady, a real nice lady.”
I was glad she thought so but, I knew she was deciding that at first glance and I could have actually been very different than I appeared. That made me think about my assumptions about her and about what I didn’t know. Was she lonely? Discouraged? In a broken relationship? Struggling? Disheartened? Depressed? Grieving? In love? Hopeful? I don’t know, I guess I never will. 
It would be so easy to put her in a box and make those first glance judgements but, I don’t know her heart. I don’t know yours either. But, I know who does. God knows your heart and He loves you just as you are but, He loves you too much to leave you there. So, if you have been being critical and too quick to make assumptions based on a first glance, consider how others see you at first glance, remember who you represent and repent. Yes, Christians still need to repent as the Holy Spirit convicts us. To repent means to stop and go a different direction. I pray that you’ll be courageous enough to do so and the next time you’re tempted to make a scathing remark you’ll see a big red flag that says CAUTION! DANGER! CRITICISM AHEAD! and you’ll choose another path and protect your heart. Who knows? Someone may be watching and decide, at first glance, to join you. 
  

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2 thoughts on “At First Glance”

  1. I once made first glance judgement of people who loaded themselves down with cross jewelry, what were they trying to prove? After noticing that I was not always a good witness for Christ in the small things of life ( anger at people cutting me off in traffic etc) I began wearing cross earrings, not to proclaim my holiness but to remind myself who I represented. Maybe those people I judged were doing the same thing. : )

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