Impressions

Climbing TreesSometimes I wonder what kind of impression my family gives to other people. I do not refer to the way we dress or even the appearance of our home; no, I am speaking of ourselves. I wonder what people see when they catch a glimpse of who we really are.

Do we seem like a happy family? Do we seem uptight, strict, or too lenient?

While at first it might seem as if impressions are unimportant, that isn’t completely true. How can we be truly successful if, upon meeting someone, they are “turned off” by what they see?

If they cannot get past the surface, how will they see the heart of Christ? For this reason alone, it seems important to continually be on my guard about how we conduct ourselves.

Sometimes the only witness that people will have, both regarding our faith and our homeschooling, is a quick glimpse of our family as we pass them by. In that moment of time, what do they see?

Do they see children behaving and being honorable? Do they see mommy stressed and the kids unmanageable?

While no family is perfect, I do wish to encourage our family to be on their best behavior constantly.

If we make an attempt to be on our best behavior at home, then doing so while out in public will be that much easier. If we are constantly focusing on how to be honorable and respectful, it will not be “a front” but a natural way of life.

When stepping out with my family, we remind ourselves of what we represent… God and homeschooling. This helps all of us remember that other people are watching us and what they see will leave a lasting impression.

I remember distinctly two different circumstances:

  • One afternoon my children and I were on a field trip, attempting to get on an elevator. One of my children just wasn’t listening and there were several people waiting for her to move. Not even thinking, I hastily grabbed her arm and dragged her to where she needed to be. The other ladies in the elevator looked and her and then at me; it was very obvious I had made a poor impression on them and that nothing I could say would change their mind about my patience level or my parenting. Talk about embarrassment on my part!
  • On a different afternoon, the kids and I were grocery shopping. A lady stopped me in the store and complimented us on how well-behaved and happy our kids were. She noticed that the kids were singing and very helpful. What a pleasure to know that we left a good impression.

In one of the above circumstances, I would have had the freedom to share what we do and why we do it. In the other, I’m afraid the ladies wouldn’t have listened to a word I had to say and I can’t blame them!

Again, while we cannot be perfect all the time, nor should we expect to, I want to make sure that our family is very careful about how we behave and the impression that we leave with other people.

Leaving a good impression isn’t about “dazzling” someone, but rather leaving a door open to explaining why it is we do what we do. It is about being a silent witness for all the world to see.

Not all first impression are true, but generally they are a good gauge for what to expect. When people see me, what do they expect? When people hear me, what do they think?

Before people will hear a word that comes out of my mouth, they will “hear” what they see. I want to make sure that they are seeing the truth and they are hearing my heart, not a momentary imperfection that will close their hearts to learning more.

How do you feel about first impressions?

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11 thoughts on “Impressions

  1. I agree with you impressions are important. Not that they seal the deal by any means, but it is often in situations we find ourselves in, many times, the only chance we get to show Chirst in our lives. Having a large family, I know we draw attention to ourselves just by our presence. Your post reminded me I need to be mindful of my actions and reactions, and strive to show others around me the love of Chirst and pray for opportunites of open doors. Thank you!

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  2. So true. By the way, when I joined the world of blogging, your blog was the first I ever read and the first that I started following! You certainly made a good first impression (at least virtually!) on me.

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  3. In a community of peers, first impressions can be lasting impressions, and are important. 🙂 I have found it interesting over the years though how people’s reaction to me has changed because of the way I dress. I started wearing the traditional Muslim headscarf (hijab) five years ago and I find I have to battle with many people’s first impression of me because of all the preconceived notions people hold. It takes multiple interactions to get past the “Yes, I’m American. Actually, my parents are born and raised here too. Yep, their parents too.” Then the conversation moves to my husband and we repeat the exact same thing. Our life doesn’t fit the stereotype because very few people can conceive of the idea that we would choose this life. Taking that time to undo their first impression has been eye opening to how easily one can be labeled as being “not one of us”.

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  4. I agree with you. We don’t want ourselves or our children to give off the impression that as Christians we are unapproachable or do anything that might turn others off to Christianity. We don’t want our behavior to make others think, “If that’s what Christians are like, I want no part of it.” We always pray every day that our behavior would be above reproach and that we would conduct ourselves with honesty, integrity, and diligence. Great post to get us analyzing our behavior. Thanks!

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  5. Hmm…coming from the standpoint of someone who is not Christian, I still have to agree that first impressions are very important. First impressions may not be the best image of a person or family, but when a person has nothing else to judge you on, they have to make the best with what they’ve got.

    For example, it took a lot of time for me to overcome the challenges of the first impression I would make on people before I even opened my mouth. I have piercings, a tattoo, and have had multiple colors of hair, dreads, or no hair at all. A lot of people shut themselves off from the opportunity of knowing me because my exterior gives people an expectation. People who look like me often are trouble makers, a lot of drama, and not generally the sort of people you want your children around. It’s since changed to a first impression of being “eccentric” as I also have taken to walking barefoot and wear a baby on my back. I’ll take eccentric over trouble or drama any day. At least that’s one most people can get around.

    This is good to model for our children as well. Sure, with friends it may not make a difference. You might have an off day and make a bad impression on someone who will later take the time to know you and become close, however that’s not how it works in the “real world”, where people pursue jobs. When you’re applying for a job you have a brief window of opportunity to make a good and lasting impression so the hiring manager has you first on their mind when they think about who they’re going to call. If you’re not lucky enough to put in your application or resume to the person hiring you personally, then your interview is your first big place to make a good impression. If you’re confident in presenting a positive image of yourself through practicing it every day, at home and in the wider community, you’ll already be a pro at it when you go in to interview for jobs (or whatever else you may have need to interview for). It becomes habitual and natural, which makes it that much easier when you’ve got the nervousness of the interview hanging over you.

    This has also been something I’ve tried to be aware of at church. I’m not Christian, as I said, but my boyfriend has chosen to pursue that spiritual path, as has my daughter. We go to church together so my other boys can learn enough to make their own decision and to support the family members that do attend. I’ve always tried my best to show myself to be kind, respectful,and caring, just as I would expect a guest to be at any religious or spiritual ceremony of my own path. This also sets a good example for my children. I am reminding them that, as a non-Christian person, I am just as much an ambassador for my own beliefs as a Christian would be attending a spiritual practice of mine. I have the ability to show the members of the church acceptance and in turn have found that acceptance is shown to me in return. They may still believe that I’m not on the right path and they may push me more than I’m comfortable, but it’s all in a good heart, and I understand that. You see, by trying to present myself in a positive way so others will be more open to me, I’m also opening myself up to understanding other people. I’m open to developing a positive impression of them as well. After all, if I’d gone in there in a sour mood creating a horrible impression of the person I am because I was having a bad day or was stressed out, much like the moment in the elevator you described appeared, I would be more likely to be snippy and judgmental about the way I was treated as well.

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