The food order is so familiar it slips off my tongue easily, “Italian beef, dipped, no peppers.” In Chicago, everyone has their preferred Italian beef order, and that was mine. Oh, sometimes I might get it with mozzarella, but usually, just meat and bread. That’s how I liked it, and I saw no reason to change. I’m a creature of habit and I was pretty sure it couldn’t get better.
Then I had a birthday, and since then, I’ve tried to do things that a mature adult would do? [Side note: should “mature adult” be considered a redundancy.] That meant trying new things, so the last time I went to get an Italian beef, I added tentatively, “Can I have sweet peppers on the side?” You know, so in case the sweet peppers ruined the taste, the whole sandwich wasn’t ruined. Long story short: they didn’t ruin the sandwich!
In fact, ever since that last Italian beef, I’ve been craving my next one — with sweet peppers, thank you very much.
Being wrong about a food isn’t new to me. I’ve changed my mind about sushi, eggs, and now sweet peppers on Italian beef. (I have not changed my mind about oatmeal. I see no purpose or valor in eating ground up cardboard.)
And now it’s public confession time. I’ve been wrong about people too.
I’ve pre-judged and misjudged people and found that I’ve had to eat my words about them. [Side note #2 – eating judgmental words about someone is not as tasty as Italian beef and sweet peppers.] At a former church I attended, my first impressions of a certain couple was that they were both annoying and boring, quite a feat. They ended up being the people I missed most when we left that church, because over time I found out that they were intelligent, kind, and we even had things in common. What a surprise!
Unfortunately for me, that’s not the only time that’s happened. I can think of two other instances where I let my assumptions about people color my perspective of them. People that I would now not only count as acquaintances, but friends. People whose opinions I respect; whose fellowship I cherish.
I knew what I needed in a relationship or a friend. I knew myself and I knew them and it didn’t seem like a fit. Or so I thought.
Turns out, I usually didn’t know them. And sometimes it took several months or years to gather the pieces of their personality together, like putting together a stained glass window to look into a beautiful soul. That can be humbling to be willing to put aside misconceptions about a person; to change an opinion, and to eventually turn away from former emotion to a newer and better one. But, as we learn in James 4:6, God gives grace to the humble, and sometimes that grace includes a new friendship.
Preferably a friend that will go get Italian beef and sweet peppers with you.