by Jeff Miller

When you first see a person while walking on the street, riding public transportation or in an elevator, what goes on in your head? Do you begin to form a first impression or an opinion of them? Sometimes first thoughts may be complimentary, seeing good. But, if you’re anything like me, those thoughts can also become judgmental and go somewhere that may not be true.

I am learning in these situations to press pause on my brain and redirect my thoughts back to the positive. Look for an interesting characteristic, or ponder where they may have a potential gift or talent. Think about what their story might be. Remember how I might like to be viewed or judged, not just by what other’s see on the outside but balanced by what they hear from the inside.

In Identity: real with self?, we considered that if opinions are only outside-based, they can be very shallow or hollow. And, might prevent you and I from meeting people who would ultimately enrich us.

I am changing my strategy in meeting new people, because I’ve discovered there is something to gain from being with people different than me. People, who may not look, speak or act like me. Who may view the world and think about life from another perspective than mine. Someone who complements me, stretches me… and causes me to grow in my life perspective. I know this will not always be a comfortable choice but believe it will be worth how it shapes and forms my person and world-view.

I’m also learning to press in and get to know people for who they truly are, not just who they may appear to be. It is not easy to stop old thought patterns for comfort and homogeneous camaraderie — but I do not believe we are called to live a life of adventure by spending time solely with people just like us.

The reality is, to really get to know someone from the inside out, you need to spend time with them and get to know their story. It is only through time spent together that we can begin to form quality opinions of one another and discern true identity.

For many today, time is a more valuable and limited resource than money. Are we willing to invest time to really get to know new people who may be not like us? To not just observe them in passing, but to intentionally set aside time to learn about their heritage, their gifts and talents, their dreams and ambitions.

Would love to hear how you get to know others? And what you do to get to know others not like you?

This is part of a “what is identity” series. Previous posts are true or false? &  real with self? 

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