When I meet someone for the first time, I always find myself coming to conclusions about their life and character before they even have a chance to show me for themselves.
Sometimes my impressions are in the person’s favor, but more often I find myself focusing on the negativity. It doesn’t take me too long to realize how wrong my first impressions were of newly made acquaintances as I get to know them better.
When I think back to the first time that I met one of my now closest friends during my sophomore year of college, I had no reason to believe we could ever be friends.
I thought that we had nothing in common. I also thought that she didn’t want to be my friend.
As I got to know her better this year, I learned that we both love peanut butter with chocolate, we both have a fear of dogs and we both know how to make each other laugh.
Most importantly, I realized that her love for God and her desire to grow into His likeness made her a friend I could turn to in times of discouragement, doubt and fear. My impression of her changed so much in just one semester that we even have decided to be roommates our senior year.
In this past year specifically, I have learned that differences between other people and myself are a good thing. Working at a camp this summer opened my eyes to many of my own shortcomings.
God’s grace and love poured out through other people in spite of myself. My way of doing things isn’t always the best way. I have learned that I can get so much practical and spiritual help from my interactions with other people.
I have found myself filtering my view of others through the message of Psalm 139:14-15. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.”
God created each person as a unique reflection of Himself for my good and to bring Him glory. I know better than anyone how desperately I need God’s mercy and grace to cover a multitude of imperfections in my own life.
As Psalm 139:2-3 says, “Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways.”
In light of that reality, I need to humbly show the same boundless love and kindness to others. I have learned to thank God for bringing people into my life I would otherwise choose to avoid.
God has ways of working in my life that I may not immediately see. I should thank Him for giving me these people who challenge and encourage me along the path of life.
While I have not perfected the art of graciously accepting people the way they are, I hope to become better as time goes by and as God continues His transformational work in my heart.