Read I Samuel 16:1-13
Written by Andrea and Betsy
At first glance, there was no chemistry. I evaluated her from afar in about 2 seconds. Smart, mature, practical and in control. Nothing at all like me. We would not be friends. What would we even talk about? Best to avoid her and flirt with the boys in the room instead.
To be honest, I was completely intimidated by her poise, and the fact that she didn’t seem to care a bit about the guys in the room as more than just regular people. I was insecure, lost and lonely. She was obviously single. Obviously older than me. And obviously not on the prowl.
We had nothing in common; that much was obvious. She showed up to the Valentine's party dressed as cute as can be. That alone threatened me; I didn't know how to match jeans and a sweater. She knew everyone at the gathering and was obviously very popular. She was cute, skinny and seemed to have the ability to talk to anyone and everyone, including the guys. Again,… threatened.
From first glance I made a judgment call that would last for years: Our worlds were worlds apart - she was cute, popular, fashionable; I was conservative, had no sense of fashion and clearly did not know how to interact in a light-hearted sort of way with anyone, including the guys. "Yup", I thought, there was pretty much no way I could ever or would ever relate to her or be her friend. Best to avoid her and focus on others in the room.
Over the years, our circles intersected from time to time. There was a polite nod and smile and an excuse to
talk to someone else.
She married one of my husband’s best friends a few years later.
Then we got pregnant within a few weeks of each other.
We ended up attending the same church shortly there after.
But we weren’t buddies by any means.
I can’t pinpoint the exact time we finally gave each other a chance. It may have been that wedding we both had to go to. Or the common aches and pains of pregnancy. By the time we had sleep deprivation and nursing traumas in common, the connection was under way. We did a Bible study together, just the two of us because we were both incredibly desperate for some sort of spiritual food. We studied Song of Solomon, and you can’t help but bond over Song of Solomon.
The rest, as they say, is history.
In many ways, my initial impressions of Betsy were right on. I would still use many of those words to describe her. But to imagine that the two of us would never share a friendship because we were so very different… Well, now the idea seems ludicrous.
I didn’t give Betsy or myself a chance when we first met. I limited her by assuming she would not condescend to my level by giving un-holy me the time of day. And I missed out on the opportunity to challenge myself in ways that I didn’t know at the time I craved.
As women we are guilty of letting first impressions rule our lives. We walk into a room and immediately appraise every other woman in the room; generally according to what they look like, how they are dressed, who they are talking with and how "put together" they appear. We measure them up, and in seconds we've got them pegged. Consciously or subconsciously we conclude "you are worthy of my time and attention" or "you are NOT worthy of my time and attention." And then, after a few seconds of appraisal based simply and solely on outward appearances we move toward and give our attention, to those we deem worthy. And we ignore the others.
First impressions don’t mean a whole lot. Human judgment is based on prior experience, outward appearance, stereotypes, mood swings and our own perception. None of these are founded enough in reality to be an accurate means of measuring a person’s potential friendship.
We look for people to be “like us.” We want to have something in common, and we imagine, based on all this outward, stuff that we can make that sort of judgment by looking at a person.
Is this how Jesus, our ultimate example treated others? No! He did not allow the first impression of a sick leper, or not very-put-together woman at the well determine His interactions. He deemed everyone worthy of respect and His time and attention. Shouldn’t we do the same? Next time you walk into a room of people you don’t know, keep your mind and heart open; even to those who, at first glance you would normally dismiss as being too unlike yourself.
Man looks on the outward appearance, but God looks on the heart (I Samuel 16:7). Go ahead and invest time and effort in getting to know a person’s heart. You may find your favorable first impression was wrong. You may find your unfavorable one was right.
By opening your mind and heart to the possibilities, you just may find the blessing of an unexpected deep friendship. I’m so glad that Andrea and I finally decided to set aside our first impressions and find instead a kinship that has blessed both of us beyond what we could imagine.