“Don’t judge a book by its cover.” “Looks can be deceiving.” “You only get one chance to make a first impression.” Hold on, which one is it? We are given so many conflicting messages about appearances it’s hard to know what to think.
I had an opportunity recently to test impressions based on appearances alone, at a workshop I held for my piano studio. This is a time for students to get together in a more casual environment than a recital, perform for each other, learn a little theory, play some games, and of course have cake! At this workshop I wanted to focus on stage presence and work on things such as bowing to their audience. To emphasize the importance of stage presence, I asked the students, (which, by the way, ranged in age from 4 to 50) to pretend that we were at a recital and it was my turn to perform next. I got up from my seat, ambled up to the piano, plopped myself down, poised my hands over the keys and sat there with a bored expression on my face. I then asked my students how my performance was going to be. The unanimous answer? Terrible! So I tried again. This time I popped up from my seat, walked confidently to the piano, bowed, sat down with a smile on my face and again poised my hands over the keys. How was my not-even-performed piece that time? Wonderful! I have to admit, even though I got the answers I was looking for, I was a little startled. I really didn’t realize to what extent our appearances affect those around us.
It got me to thinking about us as women, how we notice the outside of each other so much. The problem with that is, I know what a mess I am on the inside, but I am comparing my inside with someone else’s outside. I look at another lady in the grocery store with her hair perfectly colored, her nails done and her healthy veggies in her cart and I compare that to how stressed or maybe even depressed I am feeling that day. The ironic thing is that she has probably already done the same thing to me, comparing something she sees about me to something she is feeling inside. I am not saying we are shallow, rather, as my workshop experiment proved, that we are somehow wired this way.
I believe this is where grace comes in. First, in realizing that none of us are as perfect as we perceive each other to be. Second, I know we as women talk, but I think we need to talk even more. Maybe just in a different and more vulnerable way. I know it can be scary to tell someone how you are really feeling, but again, it seems every time I do, the other woman breathes a sigh of relief and says, “Me too!” Third, know that you are an amazingly beautiful woman, created by a loving God to do wonderful things. It says so right in the Bible: “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.” Psalm 139:14. And, “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10.
Confidence on stage is not a bad thing, neither is trying to present yourself well in life. My prayer would just be that we give ourselves enough grace to really be who we are and that we would extend that grace to each other so we could see each other more and more how Christ sees us.