For me, I give off first impressions in a variety of ways.
People don’t often know what to do with me as I carry a white cane but have normal looking eyes. My eyes track with people as I follow the sound of their voice. My blindness comes from Leber’s Optic Neuropathy, a degenerative disease that affects the optic nerve. My eyes pick the picture find but cannot send the picture to my brain. It is like a TV with a bad chord connecting the cable.
When people meet me, they often don’t put together that I am blind as we talk together. I usually know how to read situations and initiate shaking hands which gives the perception that I am sighted. Most of the time, I don’t hear the odd thoughts that people have as they realize that I don’t see them.
Every now and then, I do get the joy of hearing someone blurt out what they are thinking.
One time while visiting a youth pastor friend, Steve Cecil, (now pastor of the Journey Community of Faith in Madison, Wisc.), I encountered one of my most memorable awkward moments as a blind person. At that time, a relative was also staying with him. Since I arrived late in the evening, I didn’t meet her until the next morning.
When we met, she said one of those things, you don’t easily forget, especially coming from an older person. I came upstairs from the basement where I spent the night and ran into her in the kitchen.
Stunned, I didn’t know what to say, so I smiled and explained what the stick was for. I have many more stories about what people think this cane might be, but this first impression always makes me smile as I remember it.
Wouldn’t it be incredible if God used my cane in the same way he used Moses’ staff?