On Wednesday I start teaching a class at a law school in our area . . . and I’ll be 36 weeks pregnant. There will be no hiding it. No amount of black clothes or slouching can hide the fact that I have a massive, protruding belly that wasn’t the result of drinking too much or failing to do abdominal exercises. And the crazy thing about pregnancy is that it will continue to get bigger until the baby makes its appearance – there’s no shrinkage involved before then. So if the students won’t be able to tell I’m pregnant this coming week, it should become apparent pretty soon.
As I’ve been preparing for the first session, I’ve wondered what my students will think when they see me, because I’m sure they’re not expecting a very pregnant professor to be teaching their course.
“Is she going to go into labor during class?”
“Is she really pregnant?”
“Did they assign us the wrong professor?”
“Will we ever see her again after the baby’s born?”
“Can she wait to have the baby until after the semester is over?”
And there may be one or two of these: “Wow, how cool,” or “How exciting, she’s pregnant!”
Inevitably, they’ll see the belly before the mind behind it – the attorney in me. I don’t blame them. I’d have the same reaction.
So this got me thinking, have I had a similar, knee jerk reaction to anyone I’ve met lately?
Yep. I met a woman who I thought was so very different from me, there was no way we could ever have a conversation much less hang out or become friends. I thought,
“I can’t relate to her.”
“We have nothing in common.”
“I’m too serious for her.”
“She seems nice but nothing like me.”
And then we spent time together at a group activity and I decided to have an open mind about who she was. Good thing, because I realized I’d been totally off in my initial character cast of her. She’s actually super upbeat, fun to be around, and brings out the youthful side in me. We had no problem chatting it up or finding common ground.
So let’s be honest with ourselves for a minute – how often do we classify someone as this or that type of person based off of our initial interaction with them? Their actions, clothes, physical appearance, age, habits, way of speaking, and other things piece together to form the picture of who we think they are, and frequently we’re wrong. It’s like we’re trying to make a picture on our Lite-Brite but doing so in the dark. When we turn the lights on and compare it to the sample picture, we realize ours is contorted, wrong, and well, rather ugly.
So let’s make an effort to create our picture with the lights on. Let’s hold back from filling in the blanks as to who a person is based on an initial interaction or two. Let’s give time and grace a chance to paint the picture for us.
What do you say? Are you with me on this?