Psychology Today tells us, “Human beings are built to size each other up quickly. These first impressions are influenced by a number of factors, such as facial shape, vocal inflection, attractiveness and general emotional state. People tend to get attached to their initial impressions of others and find it very difficult to change their opinion, even when presented with lots of evidence to the contrary.” I would like to change this!
I have worked for many months to try to stop and breath as well as listen to someone I have just met. I want to let them talk and hear a little bit about them before I decide if they are good or bad by my standards. How do I do this? First thing I do is remember no matter what my first impression is that this person was specifically designed by God to be on this earth. This person is a brother or sister of mine as a child of God. Let me give you an example of someone I recently saw and how my first response has been changed.
I was participating in a family festival recently for a pregnancy crisis center that teaches the Gospel to those conflicted by an unexpected pregnancy. They help the mother make a positive pro-life decision keeping as many of God’s babies with us and I must say they are very successful. At this festival I was blessed to see the wonderful children brought into this world as a result of the centers hard work. One particular child stood out to me.
This child is an African American albino. I was mesmerized by his uniqueness and beauty. This child was about 8 years old and has the most amazing smile. Somehow joy just came from his smile. I assumed that because he is different than the norm that he has been made fun of and picked on although I don’t know that for sure. Our society tends to judge so quickly on how “normal” we think people are and I’d like to ask what is “normal”? No two people look alike even though twins appear to look alike there are differences. This beautiful child inspired me again to practice the stop, breath and hear someone first. To focus on what they have to say with my ears and not seeing with my eyes. This child made me see uniqueness as God’s example of His love.
Malcolm Gladwell is an author that I have become obsessed with recently for his teachings on seeing past the obvious appearance. He talks in one of his books about the story of David and Goliath and I think this is when my eyes first opened to seeing things are hardly ever as they appear.
He tells of how David , a shepherd was a small man in stature with just a sling. This sling is not a typical sling like a slingshot but a sling used in shepherding to fend off animals preying on sheep. Sheep are defenseless and rely on their shepherd to protect them. Shepherds were extremely skilled using a sling because it was the means of saving their sheep or livelihood and their accuracy was unbelievable. This type of sling was used by the Israelite armies as weapons. He loaded rocks into his pouch from the ground to use in his sling. The rocks in this area where David met Goliath was formed of barium sulfate which is considered an equivalent to shooting a 45 caliber bullet.
The Philistines send their biggest and strongest warrior down the mountain to fight one on one with the Israelite’s strongest warrior that ends up being the small David. David convinced King Saul to let him fight Goliath against the King’s wishes.
Goliath calls to David taunting him to come to him and fight him and to bring his “sticks” with him. David stands where he is and loads his sling, fires it and hits Goliath in the forehead right between his eyes (the most devastating area to hit) causing him to fall. He then runs up to the giant, takes his sword and cuts off his head causing the Philistines to retreat in fear.
Gladwell tells that in this story David is considered an underdog because of his size and his age and Goliath is considered a mighty warrior that cannot lose a battle because of his strength and size. David only has his sling and a few rocks while Goliath has all types of weaponry available to him. But David was not an underdog because of his skill and accuracy and Goliath was actually the underdog. He is why.
Goliath had a condition call acromegaly which is a pituitary disorder causing gigantism. This disease also caused impaired vision so when Goliath called to David to “Come to me and fight and bring your sticks” he was doing so because he had very poor vision. This caused David’s shepherd Staff to look like multiple sticks also. It says in the Bible that Goliath was led down the mountain yet another clue to his poor vision.
When David told King Saul he wanted to “fight” Goliath King Saul thought it meant combat like wrestling not in the means of sending one shot with a sling to deliver a devastating blow. This is a misinterpretation.
The thing I learned from this lesson is that Goliath’s greatest strength (his size) was also his greatest downfall. People feared Goliath for his mighty size without knowing his shortcomings. You can see more here:
I would think that if most of us saw Goliath today we would query at his differences from us and may lead to some inaccurate thoughts judging him.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.