First impressions often stymie how God wants us to perceive others.
Recently we vacationed in Mississippi to visit my wife’s dad and sister. Our visits there have become quite routine. Each day I get up, run, take a shower, go to a buffet, take a nap, watch TV, go to bed, and then the next day I do the exact same thing. Boring, but restful. On that visit’s third day we were enjoying lunch at Ryan’s all-you-can-eat buffet on 16th Avenue…for the third time that week. I’m naturally skinny, so I justify these twice annual binges without too much concern for lasting weight gain.
Unfortunately, Mississippi has the dubious distinction of being the third most overweight state. I understand why when every other restaurant advertises their version of the “all-you-can-eat buffet.”
That day at Ryans as I pigging out on tacos, field peas, fried chicken wings, and yeast rolls, I noticed a table about 15 feet from ours around which sat four very large women.
I watched as one woman brought her two plates back from the buffet line. They both overflowed with multiple varieties of fried foods stacked on top of a six-inch high dollop of mashed potatoes and brown gravy.
With disgust I thought to myself, This woman is slowly killing herself. Doesn’t she realize what she is doing to herself? She is easily a 100 pounds overweight. Doesn’t she even care? Makes me sick!
As I downed my pile of fried okra like I was eating M&M’s, I felt disgust at this woman. At that moment in the midst of my insolent conceit, God’s gentle voice whispered something like this to my heart.
Charles, you don’t know her story, do you? How can you be so proud? She may not have come from a family who loved you like yours did you. On the contrary, for all you know, she may have been abused as a child. She may have never known real love from a mom or a dad or a grandma or a grandpa. Her unhealthy eating may be her misguided way to numb the pain in her heart. Charles, remember I want you to see others through My eyes, not yours. Are you seeing her in that way?
In a flash, God did two things for me.
- First, He convicted me of my condescension toward that woman.
- Second, He gave me new eyes though which to see her.
Sometimes life lessons come to us in the most unusual places through the most unsuspecting ways.
I hope this brief experience will remind me of this lesson the next time someone’s unpleasant appearance or poor choice tempts me to to see him or her through my eyes, rather that through God’s eyes.
How about you? Have you ever prematurely drawn conclusions based simply on what you see in someone’s appearance rather than looking deeper?