We have all heard the warning, “First impressions matter, so use it wisely, you only get one…,” and I thoroughly think this is true. The impressions we make on people are lasting. Whether they are good or bad, they matter to those we have relationships with.
I can think back in my life to many times I have made some BAD, and often embarrassing, impressions. Sometimes they were accidentally bad and others, I must honestly admit, that I made intentionally usually accompanied by a healthy dose of anger or pride. Later I look back and wonder why I acted so childish, careless and rude. Usually it is late at night or on a quiet ride that I review conversations, experiences and situations and wonder “I did I REALLY do/say that?” Thanks to forgiveness and loving people I still have friends and family who will talk to me!
Other times impressions are fun, inspiring and memorable. There are so many wonderful people in my life. From close family members, to teachers, youth leaders, to complete strangers who make a difference—I have countless people who have listened to a prompting and reached out to help in a time of need. I remember years ago I was on my mission and Elder Kay and Sister Jodie Bergman decided it was a travesty that none of us elders could bake our own bread and Sister Bergman took every Sunday and Monday to have a few missionaries over for bread lessons. I went a few times (I could not get it right I guess) and one day I distinctly remember kneading dough with Sister Bergman in their small rented apartment and she explained that we have such a high capacity for love, our hearts never are too full to love someone else—love is not a finite piece of pie that when divvied out there are no remaining portions for new comers without taking from someone we gave to previously. No, our love only grows in endless supply to encompass more people over the years. That lesson has made an impact on my because no matter how many states we lived in, countries we have traveled or people we have met, there is always room for people to make a positive impact.
Sometimes people do not make the best impressions, and while they are often hurtful, rude or un-comely, so it is hard to remember they are people with struggles and trials too, it is important to note that just like all of us, they too have moments of weakness. One of my favorite hymns has the powerful words, “In the quiet heart is hidden sorrow that the eye can’t see…” We never know what people are dealing with and although their reaction is not desirable, we can respond with love.
Beginning this new chapter of our lives I have had a chance to look back and see what impressions I have made on others—again, some were unintentional. From my staff in the Philippines who sent me off with a stack of letters mainly focusing on how much they learned from me and two even mentioned, “we were sometimes scared of you...” hahaha, not sure I knew I was that scary, but apparently that was a lasting impression I made! Two co-workers who sent little messages of their thoughts on working with me (I am sure there are many other thoughts that people don’t dare speak out loud!)
I will mention two of them because I think very highly of the two people who sent them. One was a photo of a restaurant and on the wall there is, in large bright while bulbs, the bold command to “BE AMAZING.” My friend tagged the photo on social media with the comment, “Dustin, this reminded me of you!” That made me smile.
Another colleague and I had an on-going joke. In the mornings when I would see her I would say hello (more like sing hello) in my normal good morning fashion. Often she would reply sullenly, “It is way too early to be that happy.” Or in a warning tone, “Dustin, I have not had my coffee yet..” Haha. So as I was leaving she joked that she found a door mat she wanted to give me and asked what color I wanted. I offhandedly, not thinking she was serious, said, “Pink!” To our surprise yesterday, a box came with a mat that reads, “Don’t Forget Your Sparkle!” written in pink. I love it.
There truly are some good, caring and giving people in the world. I am so happy we have had many of them in our lives. People who have been beside us when we cried, helped us when we were down and reached out a hand when we were too prideful to ask for it.
So yes, impressions are lasting and do make a difference, and if we all realize we are just trying to make it through this rough, unpredictable journey of life, we will all BE AMAZING and none of us will forget our (pink) sparkle!