Have you ever met someone with whom you felt an instant connection? A friendship was formed with little or no hesitation, and you went on to share stories about your aspirations, your disappointments, and the ordinary routines of your life? I have experienced this type of bond. But it is oh so rare. With my borderline introvert personality, perhaps it is more infrequent for me than others.
Developing a meaningful relationship with another person takes time. In most cases, an instant connection will not be there, but we are called to dig deeper. To find what lies beneath the surface.
Some of the most life changing relationships I’ve experienced have been with those who, after my first impression, did not appear to be someone I would want to befriend.
A woman I met at a women’s ministry event, who was annoyingly loud, ended up making me laugh so hard I was in tears on a night when I had been tempted to stay home. Another woman who seemed pretentious became a dear friend, and one of the most genuinely caring people I know.
We all project different versions of ourselves when we are trying to impress those around us. When we just want others to like us. We try to be the person who is the life of the party or the one who has it all together.
My husband and I have moved a total of over five thousand miles since we got married nearly eight years ago. Before our last cross-country move, I was devastated to leave relationships that were just beginning to grow, but knew God had something spectacular planned for us at our next destination.
I wasn’t wrong.
He has molded my personality, which was once extremely introverted, and pressed me to reach outside of my realm of comfort. He’s pushed me to see those around me. He’s made me realize that living a full life means reaching beyond what I think I’m capable of doing.
He’s shown me that we are called not just to extend grace to those around us who are like us, who share all of the same beliefs and political stance, who like the same t.v. shows, and whose kids attend the same school.
Peter, who had experienced the pure, abounding love and grace of Jesus after denying him not once, but three times, says, “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8 NIV)
Love means looking past first impressions. It means looking past that snarky remark and seeing the person who had a rough morning, an unexpected phone call. It means starting a conversation with the girl who has barely said two words at your Bible study even when you don’t know how to begin. It means taking a meal to the widow across the street, even though you know he may talk your ear off for an hour.
Love looks past our initial opinion of people and sees the initials of Christ stamped on them, made to reflect His glory.