Have you noticed that our human nature always provides us with some sort of (usually shallow) first impression? We tend to size others up and judge them based on previous experiences. Thankfully, I’ve lost confidence in the accuracy of my first impressions and make every attempt not to form them. There are just too many instances where people surprise me.
Maybe you, like me have passed rash judgment on insecure people who are simply uncomfortable and feeling out of place, mistaking them as arrogant or unsocial. In their attempt to project confidence they don’t have, they can come across that way on the surface. I want to see people as God sees them, their potential. I want to care enough to empathize with them and understand them.
I think authentic fellowship, in my case Bible Study, has led to this growth. Not the superficial gathering where everyone fears sharing their trials and challenges for fear of judgment, but that quality time with others seeking to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind, and to love our neighbor as our self – with a willingness to admit all the times that we fall short. The intimate sharing opens my heart to others I may have little more in common with than our all-important relationship with God.
It is tough to open up to others when you’re worried about what they’ll think of you. In order to be vulnerable there has to be trust. Fear of what others think has hindered me from being who God created me to be – peer pressure. I am learning that the opinions of others has often stifled and hindered me from completing what God has planned for me. My desire to please God in view of eternity must override the temporary discomfort of falling short of misguided or worldly standards. It’s becoming easier to be myself in pursuit of who God created me to be, and I am less affected by the opinions of others.
However, being vulnerable and opening up isn’t always appropriate. The motives of others may not be pure – we must exercise discernment. But usually it’s just a matter of who’s going to let down their guard and be real first. Don’t let first impressions scare you away. God has a purpose for us, a place to contribute. If you’re not there yet, do not give up – allow some time to get beyond a first impression, and if you find down the road that you’re still not in the right place to contribute, keep seeking!