We always hear about taking second chances–but how about giving them? We all know that first impressions are often behind firm opinions we make about others.
But what if your first impression is wrong? What if what you heard them say wasn’t really what they said? What if–in a moment of fear or anger–they said something they didn’t mean? What if that air of arrogance and pride is a wall of protection that has been built by a deeply hurt heart?
But judging on first impressions means two things. First, we make a snap judgement that is often inaccurate and unless that person comes back into our world in a very profound way, we will keep that opinion forever. Second, we lose all opportunity to minister or develop a friendship because we figure they are “too far gone” or “we won’t have anything in common”.
In my freshman year of college–over 25 years ago now– I ended up with a roommate who was about as different from me as you could get. I was the sheltered, opinionated girl from a Christian background. She was the worldly, new believer from a difficult past. We both made very serious judgements about each other, causing our freshman year to be extremely challenging for both of us. By the time it was over, we weren’t speaking much. In fact, all of our sophomore year was mostly spent avoiding each other. But at the beginning of our junior year, we ran into each other and just started chatting and we realized something– we had both grown up a bit. We had both changed. Ironically, and by the grace of God, we developed a strong, wonderful friendship that continues to this day.
That friendship developed because both of us were willing to give the other a second chance. We had to forgive and we had to believe that people can change.
Do you believe that? Do you believe that people can change? Or do you make a snap judgement that you never re-visit? Think about someone who just irritates you or maybe someone you wrote off a long time ago. Think on why you made that decision about them. Have you thought about them lately? Have you considered that they might have changed? Or that maybe…possibly…your original judgement may have been wrong??
Sure, some people never change. And some people make it difficult to give them a second chance. But– if we truly believe that God is God–then we have to believe that God can change people. We should never, ever write someone off as hopeless. And we should never, ever make a permanent decision about someone based on a first impression. But we all do it.
Do yourself a big favor–strike up a conversation with someone you decided you don’t care for–or maybe even downright dislike. You may be surprised. You may realize that you can get along with each other, after all. At the very least, you may gain insight into why that person behaves in the way they do. You may walk away saying you never want to do that again but at least you tried. At least you looked past that one bad impression to see the real person.