North Jefferson News, Gardendale, AL

Opinion

April 26, 2012

Danielle Pelkey: Much lost when judging books by covers

COMMENTARY — Would you consider yourself a judgemental person? Some people embrace the fact that they judge every book by its cover, and they think they are good at it.

Sadly, until the last few weeks, I was that kind of person. I put a mark on everyone I saw, and my first impressions stuck until they made me change my mind. This sounds like an attribute of a horrible person. But if we are all being honest here, most people do the exact same thing — they just aren’t as open with it.

How many people have we let slip through our lives and never gotten to know them, just because of what we’ve heard about them or because of what we think we know about them?

Sometimes, the rumors may be true. That girl may really be a gossip who is constantly stirring up trouble, but she may also be a person who said too much one time and the name stuck with her.

Yes, that guy may really be an alcoholic, but isn’t there more to a man or woman than the addictions that have them bound? Don’t we all have addictions in one form or another that we are dealing with? So what if your addiction is something that can be easily hidden, and their addiction is something that they choose to wear on their sleeves? Is it that much of a difference between a drug addict who can’t stop his habit and makes constant bad choices to get the fix they need at the time, or the office space pill popper who takes just as many drugs, but they were prescribed from a doctor?

Is there not a person in both of these scenarios? Aren’t the drug addict and the pill popper still people? They hurt, they cry, they laugh, they love — addictions don’t make people quit being people. They may cloud their judgements and make them not act themselves, but the real person is still in them, wanting to get out.

So the next time you see that person who you know has issues — you know, the one you’ve been avoiding conversations with at church for months so that you don’t get tangled up in their lives, or the neighbor who desperately needs a friend right now, but is facing more issues than you care to tackle — remember that behind those problems is a person.

And yes, your issue may be nicer to look at than theirs, but don’t write them off because they have issues.

People deserve a chance, whether we think so or not. I had to learn this lesson the hard way. After being quite the judgemental person, it was a hard awakening to see that maybe my judgements were skewed. Maybe, just maybe, I couldn’t tell every book by the cover.

From this week forward I choose to give people a chance, not just let my first impressions rule my mind about them. This is a hard lesson to learn, because it’s so much easier to block people out of our lives than to let them in. It’s nicer to keep the pretty things close and push the ugly things away — but we could turn the tables.

What if people pushed you away because of every ugly thing in your life? What if your life could bring beauty to someone else’s ugly situation? You can’t be someone else’s savior, but you can point them to the Savior.

If you don’t give people a chance, you are not only short-changing them, you might be missing out on a lot yourself. Keep yourself open to people, let them get into your inner circle.

Pour into people’s lives, and you might be surprised at what you get out of it.

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