It certainly didn’t look promising – my first impression was that I had made a mistake not booking somewhere a little more pricey. But it was late and I needed somewhere to stay and so I would make the most of it. I walked past the building site, down the long laneway, avoiding the rubbish and the various bits of debris and made my way to the nondescript front door. After a couple of attempts I managed to key in the pin number which had been texted to me and I found my room down the corridor – From there everything was just fine. Good room, clean, well appointed – perfect for a business trip – really it was just what I wanted but the first impression left me more than a little cold.
I suffer from the same malady that most of us face – we often make snap decisions based on ‘first impressions’ and those impressions can often be wrong. We make judgements based on how people are dressed, what car they drive, how they interact with their kids or partners, or how friendly they appear to be.
I have learned (through mistakes and prejudice) that my first impression can be very misleading; it does not take into account many factors which change the circumstances and the interpretation of behaviour we see with our eyes.
The frustrated parent who is under unseen pressure because of finances; the dishevelled individual who is struggling with mental illness; the quiet and reserved man who is almost completely isolated because of illiteracy; or the woman who is bitter and twisted because of the compounded grief of her last six months.
I have found that people are just like icebergs which only have about 12.5% of their mass above the water – most of the time you do not know what is going on below the waterline in people’s lives.
This should encourage us to try to get past our first impressions and look for more substance below the surface – just like my hotel room proved, there was more than meets the eye.
I am glad that the Lord does not deal with me based on first impressions because He would have written me off long ago.
I am glad that the following scripture is true…
“I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind, Even to give every man according to his ways, According to the fruit of his doings.” Jer 7:10
So don’t stop at first impressions today – and be glad that the Lord doesn’t!