First Impressions

First Impressions are more important than you think. Growing up, especially from my teen years on, my mom would “wig-out” if I went out of the house without looking as she thought I should. That meant, showered, decent clothes (no warm-ups and back then it was those baggy Russell athletic sweats, not the slick, trendy clothes of today), hair in place and make-up on. It was so important to her that I always looked my best. She would say to me, “If you can, why wouldn’t you look your best always?” Even though I would rebel at times by not washing my hair (pony tail), not putting on make-up and wearing warm-ups, now that I am on the “Back 9,” I so get her. I am thankful that she stressed the importance of “putting your best foot forward always!” She didn’t just stress looks either, she stressed your best “self!”

Mom understood and taught the famous quote, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression!” Funny, in preparing for the Miss America Pageant, that is one thing the team REALLY STRESSED. They talked about the first time the judges would ever see me would be a photograph. The second impression of me would be my resume. And the third time they would see me would be in person during the judge interview. All in some way would be a “first impression!”

Being in the Miss America Pageant system taught me so many life lessons but this one was probably one of the best. I can remember them saying, pictures never go away, and now in the “Back 9”–think about that for a minute–with all the “social media”, they also said a picture speaks! Have you ever heard a “picture is worth a 1000 words”? That is so true. Whether we admit it or not, pictures speak and tell us things. It can allow us to make a judgment. The judgment can be false, especially if it is a snapshot where we aren’t given the “context” of the picture which, by the way, parents need to teach and teach and teach their children this “truth”.

Our kids are making some “TRAGIC MISTAKES” with some of the pictures they post on social media. I can tell they either have never been taught what to post or not post or they just don’t care. Either way, one day they are NOT GOING TO LIKE the “sowing and reaping” principle that WILL APPLY.

I read recently, and have read many times before, when someone is arrested for a crime and we see a picture of them on the news, they look pretty rough. The next time we see them in the courtroom there is a drastic difference in their appearance. It is because they have been “groomed” to make a good first impression on the judge and then the jury. Attorneys understand and see the principle of “putting your best foot forward” lived out thousands of times in real life every day in the courtroom. They understand human behavior and “first impressions”!

Recently I watched a young waitress handle an unhappy customer whose order was wrong and late. The waitress was kind, soft spoken and apologetic. I overheard her say, “What can I do to make this up to you?” The customer gave a very sarcastic remark. She responded with continued politeness and amazing self-control. I was so amazed at her “poise”! After the very agitated customer left, I spoke to her and told her how impressed I was with how she handled the situation that was clearly not her fault. She said, “Oh I have learned to apply Scripture to those situations, like Proverbs 15:1, “A gentle answer turns away wrath and a harsh word stirs up anger.” I can tell you my first impression of that young waitress was stamped and sealed to me. She was a girl with self-control, wisdom, someone who valued her job and didn’t mind responsibility and all with a kind heart.

I remember well our oldest son, Brewer, and his good friend were talking with a very, very beautiful young woman who was visiting in our home one time. Seriously, in looks she was flawless–a 10 face and body!!! After she left the scene, I couldn’t wait to ask them what they thought. I was sure they would be enamored with her beauty. I was shocked that they were completely “turned OFF!!” I said, “Seriously, why?” I was not involved in the conversation they had with her. They proceeded to tell me that all they heard about was her accomplishments, her current living arrangements, her current “gig” and on and on and on about her. They said it was such a “downer” and negated all her beauty……. “all about me” conversations are a downer. Brewer’s friend’s first impression was total “yuk!”

Sometimes as Christians we never have a chance to make a second impression. It is a one shot deal! Like with a waitress or waiter in a restaurant when we are on a trip, or a seat on an airplane, or check-out line in a store. Have you ever stopped and thought, “What is the first impression a stranger gets of ME?” In the process of self-examination that I have allowed myself to go through over the last 6 years, I realized my “First impression” grade was probably a “B- or C” at times. It had to be because my time with God was not a “first priority” on my “to do list”. Somehow I let my quiet time get squeezed in “whenever”! NOT GOOD!

I have come to RE-UNDERSTAND–in order to give off “JESUS” in me as a first impression, I had to spend time with HIM, in the first part of my day. Otherwise, SELF was usually the first impression and that was not always very APPEALING!

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