“Some people are weird or irritating. If you were a Seinfeld fan, do you remember the episode with the guy who was a close talker? You know the type, a person who stands too close to you, invading your personal space in face-to-face conversations. A list of social-skill problems that annoy us would be endless: close talkers, people who name-drop, people who talk too much about themselves, who don’t make eye contact, who laugh too loud, who linger too long, who don’t take hints or no for an answer. Then there are people who are overly sensitive or insensitive and people who are sickly sweet or rude. A lot of our emotional reactions toward people are in response to their social skills or personality quirks. Some people are witty, fun, interesting, and charismatic. We lean into these people. But other people bore and annoy us. We lean away, ignoring them, or treating them brusquely and rudely. . . . There’s a famous finding in psychology called ‘What is beautiful is good.’ Basically, attractive people are perceived to be more intelligent and more virtuous than less attractive people. And conversely, ugly people are thought to be less intelligent and more immoral. As children, we’re told over and over again not to judge a book by its cover. And yet we do. A lot of my friends at Freedom don’t have any teeth because they lack adequate dental care. Not having teeth affects your appearance. When you don’t have any teeth, you can’t smile, and when you can’t smile, you look mean and sinister. And people don’t lean in when they see someone looking mean and sinister. Think also about tattoos and body piercings, haircuts and hair colors, and clothing choices, from high heels to cowboy boots to baggy pants. We are constantly sizing people up, leaning toward or away from them, based upon what they look like and what they’re wearing.”
MOVING FROM HEAD TO HEART
*When it comes to people, do you usually “judge a book by its cover?”
*What makes you “lean in?” . . . lean away?
*Given these often visceral reactions, how will you ever have “the will to embrace?” Literally–how will you? How will you practice leaning in?
Abba, give me “the will to embrace” when someone who “triggers me” crosses my path.
For More: Stranger God by Richard Beck
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