I used to be called cynical, tactless, and heartless among other things, but that’s WHAT I was, not WHO I was. All to often this world feels more at ease if it’s able to label things and people. I don’t like to be labeled.
When someone first meets me, they may not like my beard, my clothes, my accent or the car I drove up in. They may come to rash, hasty conclusions about who I am and if I’m worthy of their time. Even the most forgiving and faithful of us can be guilty of forming these preconceptions some of the time.
It shouldn’t be that way.
I chastise myself when I jump to conclusions based on initial conversations or appearances, and yet find myself making the same mistake at a later date. Why do we get stuck in this trap? Why don’t we give everyone the benefit of the doubt until they prove otherwise? It has been stated that there is nothing more important than a first impression, and while this can be true and we must put our best foot forward, first impressions can leave a lot out of the picture.
By listening without an open heart and looking with veiled eyes, we may blind ourselves to the history and backstory of the person we face. We all have demons, pasts…skeletons in our closet propped up on our baggage that shape how we speak and interact with others, but how many of those things are we being judged upon before we get the chance to prove ourselves?
We interact with people from so many backgrounds and such varied pasts that we can become jaded by stereotypes and preconceptions based on our own backgrounds and experiences. We can form instantaneous opinions based on those jaded views without taking into consideration what life events have influenced the person we are interacting with. That isn’t right, fair, or acceptable…but it is reality; one we can and should attempt to change.
Most of us find it difficult to focus on ourselves in a mirror–to excruciatingly examine our own flaws (physical or emotional), so why do we rush to do so for others? It would be nice if we could see their history as clearly as we know our own so that we could afford them some latitude and grace, but since that isn’t going to be a reality, why don’t we cut them some slack anyway? Why don’t we try to withhold judgement until we see what fruit they bear, what motives are in their hearts, what kind of people they are…not what kind of people we think they are.