Not that long ago, I happened to rush past a mirror at church, shot it a quick glance, and then almost broke my neck in the subsequent double-take. Somebody else was looking back from that mirror!
I might not have been particularly surprised to see one of my brothers staring back. A couple of us have been told many times that we look alike. What I didn’t expect, though, was to see my Granddaddy Key looking at me out of that glass. Good grief! When did that happen!?
On one hand, the experience is all the more pointed because it was so utterly unexpected. Such completely unbidden “lightning strike” impressions are usually accurate impressions.
On the other hand, I take a little comfort in the fact that I’ve looked in the mirror since then, and all I’ve seen is some obvious resemblance, not the dear man himself. Character-wise, I’ll never be that good. Physically speaking, I’m sure that reflection was indeed a sign of things to come. I’m just hoping that maybe I was really tired that day. Sixty is a few clicks back in my rearview mirror, and my grandfather in that mirror was, well, I thought he was older than that. Was he? Oh, boy. Back to the gym, Curt, for gerbil activity. Not likely. Maybe a little hair color. Nope. Gray is a color. Okay, I’m heading toward mostly white, I admit. Oh, well. It looked good on Granddaddy.
I’ll never forget a fascinating seminar I attended one day in which the subject was “face-reading.” The presenter was supposedly an expert in “reading” the physical characteristics of the human face. He purported to be able to look at facial features and come up with a fairly accurate description of at least some important characteristics of the person behind it. To some extent, we all do that, whether we realize it or not. (By the way, the factors I now mention are not faces, just near them, but my personal policy is that I don’t fully trust a guy with a squirrel perched on his head or a Bluetooth phone stuck in his ear until my first impression has been proven wrong.)
I was fairly skeptical when the seminar began, but I was interested. I knew that the guy was regularly paid well by lawyers to read the faces of jurors. And I admit that the longer I listened to him and the more examples of his craft that I perused, the more convinced I became of at least some validity in what he claims to do.
It probably follows, by the way, that faces over 50 are easier canvases to “read” than younger faces not yet as painted by life and all the experiences and attitudes that come with years.
You don’t have to be an expert to engage in a little bit of face reading. All humans do it all the time. We recognize laugh lines, furrows of worry, scars of bitterness, or the cold tell-tale marks of hatred. The terrain of faces that are good at smiling or given to scowling paint quite an accurate picture of human hearts. Consciously or not, we react to what we see. If we take it too far and refuse to alter our first impression, we’re being judgmental. But taking our impression into proper account is discernment, and we live in danger without that.
Right now, I’m remembering “reading” the most beautiful faces I’ve ever seen. They’re the faces of my grandchildren the first times I looked into their eyes. I hope they liked the face they saw as well. I was enthralled by theirs, captivated by love at first sight. I won’t be around to see their faces at 50 to see what they’ve made of them. But God grant that those fine faces are etched unmistakably with their Creator’s love and joy.
Copyright 2021 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.