Sunday, September 14, 2008

You can't judge a book by its cover

I LOVE to read. I LOVE to read EVERYTHING. Mysteries, science fiction, inspirational, non-fiction, fiction, romance, drama, you name it. There aren't many books I won't read. But you know which ones I enjoy the most - Reader's Digest Condensed Books. First of all, there are 4 books all together in one handy-dandy book! How great is that? Secondly, if you take the cover off the book, all you see is a plain, hard cover. No indication of what's inside. No titles, no authors. No preconceived notion of what type of story(ies) you're going to be reading. Because it's Reader's Digest, you know the books inside are going to be really good, things you can sink your teeth into. But, if you look at the cover without the dust flap - it's just another book. No frills, no thrills. No indication if you're going to find a murder-mystery to the tune of Agatha Christie, or perhaps a law story by John Grisham. Or, maybe a great adventure down a winding river in a raft and the hero gets tossed overboard, and... You don't know what you're going to get until you get past the outside plain, hard cover. You just don't know. You know the old saying, "You can't judge a book by its cover."

The same is true of course, for people. I'll never forget the first day of registration for Marching Band at Slippery Rock. My parents were with me and when I gave my name and high school at the registration table, the girls' faces lit up and they said how excited they were I was there. I felt great, at first. I was already accepted by these people and the only thing they knew about me was my name, what instrument I played and where I went to high school. The only thing was, it wasn't great, not at all. They didn't know ME. They didn't bother at that first introduction to take off my dust jacket to see what was underneath. They didn't know who or what I was under the high school I came from, or the instrument I played; they knew me for what they saw on the outside. They didn't know how I felt to be there, in a strange place, with strange people, virtually all alone. They were only excited to meet me because they knew the school I came from had a strong competition marching band and a great band instructor. They had pre-judged me based on the colorful high school cover I had wrapped around me. At that first introduction, no one bothered to look beneath the dust jacket to see the soft, plain cover of the real me underneath.

We are so quick to judge people based on the outside cover that they wear, that we often miss out on opportunities to meet amazing people. We've all done it. We're not perfect. We're not supposed to be. Only God is perfect and He knows we're still learning. So, the next time you walk into a book store, instead of looking at the covers on the books, go to the section you like, whatever it is, and just pick up a book and start reading. Ignore the cover, ignore the author, just grab a book, open it up and start reading. You don't even have to start at the beginning. You may find you don't like it at all, or you may find that you love it and don't want to put it down. No matter what happens, at least you have taken the time to look beyond the dust jacket and see what's truly important - the content inside...