I wish that you could have been a fly on the wall on my first date with my husband. In the few hours that we spent together during that night, I managed to get the totally wrong impression of who he was, and I took all of the hilarious and fun things that he did on our date totally literally and seriously. From the games that we played in the car to the songs that we listened to and sang to the stories that we told and shared, I somehow came to the conclusion that Mr. Miller was a super-serious, uptight guy who only listened to “The Lion King” soundtrack (no judgment there) and played games in the car to get to his destinations. Today, when he and I tell our story to those we know and meet, we laugh at my poor, little self and how I came to such a wrong and opposite conclusion about the person I love so, very much.
Since when did we arrive in this world to such a high and mighty position that others need to impress us? Since when did we make judgments in a matter of minutes, sometimes only seconds, that last for years, if not lifetimes?
But in reflecting on our story, I sometimes feel a sting of pain when I think about it. You see, I was given a second chance with my husband—a chance to see who he really was and what he really was all about, and in receiving that second chance, I learned that my first impression of him was completely wrong. But I often think about all of the people in my life whom I judged incorrectly and who left a wrong impression, whether due to their action or my perception, that will never get the chance to be made right. I think of all of the friendships that I have missed out on, all of the friendships that have ended, all of the bridges that have burned, and all of the doors that have closed…all because of the wrong impression.
We use the phrase a lot these days. Someone of the opposite political party goes on a rant. Someone introduces us to his or her significant other about whom that person just can’t stop talking. We finally meet a person whom we have been longing to meet. We finally see that movie that is supposed to be the film of the year, and we get in the car and say, “I’m just not impressed.”
Maybe it goes deeper than that. Maybe someone that we really looked up to just committed a sin or mistake. Maybe someone committed a sin a long time ago, and we’ve given that person a lifelong label based on that sin. Maybe someone who was trying to be funny ended up being offensive. Maybe someone unintentionally offended us by not responding to a call, text, or message. Maybe someone that we really considered to be a friend left us out of something for which we felt we deserved an invitation. Maybe someone intentionally hurt us or offended us in an effort to wound us or get back at us, and no matter our history or their humanity or the humility that we are supposed to have in order to forgive, we go to bed at night and say, “I’m just not impressed.”
Do we hear ourselves? Since when did we arrive in this world to such a high and mighty position that others need to impress us? Since when did we make judgments in a matter of minutes, sometimes only seconds, that last for years, if not lifetimes? Since when did we have the right to write others off and determine them to be insignificant in our life stories? Since when do we throw scripture out the window when it comes to our treatment and forgiveness of other people and play strictly by the rules of our impressions?
I want you to take a minute and close your eyes. Well, read this part first, and then close your eyes. 😉 But close your eyes, and think about people whom you have written off in your life. What caused such a negative impression and reaction? Did those people truly do something terrible to hurt you or offend you, or were your conclusions jaded by gossip, misperception, assumption, or anger? Did those people truly sin against you, or did you just feel wronged, and even if those people really did commit sin against you, is writing them off or choosing to be “not impressed” the correct response and action from you?
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of constantly being judged and critiqued on my daily performance, and I’m tired of casting similar judgment and criticism on other people. I’m tired of trying to be all things to all people and feeling like I have my hand in a little bit of everything—a jack of all trades, but a master of none or really awesome at one moment but rather a bit of a mess at another, depending on when you catch me. I’m tired of trying to live up to other people’s impressions and expectations instead of God’s, and I’m tired of imposing my impressions and expectations on other people. If these are the standards that we must measure up to, I can tell you now that I am just never going to get it even-close-to right.
So today I encourage us to not be “impressed,” but not in the way that we typically define it. There are multiple definitions of the word “impress,” but here are two for us to consider. The first is the way that we typically define the word—to make someone feel admiration and respect, but the second is the way that I want us to consider defining the word today—to fix an idea in someone’s mind. Today I encourage us not to allow our judgments, thoughts, and feelings about other people to be fixed in our minds, leaving a permanent impression that can never be changed or allowed to grow.
When it comes to people, here’s what we are told to do:
- Love them. (Mark 12:31)
- Consider them to be more significant than ourselves. (Philippians 2:3)
- Forgive them. (Matthew 18:21-22)
- Pray for them and bless them. (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:14)
- Confront them if they have sinned against us. (Matthew 18:15)
- Forgive them. (Matthew 18:21-22)
- Be quick to hear them, slow to speak to them, and slow to become angry with them. (James 1:19)
- Keep no record of their wrongs. (1 Corinthians 13:5)
- Protect them, trust them, hope for them, and persevere with them. (1 Corinthians 13:7)
- Forgive them some more. (Matthew 18:21-22)
Regardless of our impression of them.
So today, give someone a second look. Give that person a second chance. Take a big, deep breath. Be the bigger person. Intentionally look for the good. And don’t be too “impressed.”