How I Learned To Never Judge a Book By It’s Cover

A wonderful short but true story about how one man learned a powerful lesson about judging others. This is a message that everyone could benefit from!

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by.roy.riversThis experience was the type where life smacks you upside the head and says “Pay attention!” It happened a few years back when our kids were in their teens and our two middle ones had a rebellious streak that lasted a couple years (and aged Nancy and I about 20!) During this phase our kids chose to hang out with other teenagers who were not the best influence. Some were downright scary. Because of our fear as parents and all the emotional turmoil that comes with that, we tended to look down on those “other” kids.

One day I had gone to pick up Adam who was at a friend’s house. I drove up to the home, parked out front and proceeded to get out of the car. As I did a young man came out of the house. He was probably the most dirty, scraggly looking guy I had ever seen, complete with tattoos and piercings. He walked right up to me and said “Are you Mr. Rivers?” I said yes and he said “So Adam tells me you’re a singer.” I told him I was and we talked for a couple minutes about that. Then he said “I write songs myself. Would you like to hear the lyrics of one?” I told him sure I would. He pulled out a piece of flimsy, tattered paper from his wallet and began reading it out loud. The words were some of the most dark, vile things I had ever heard… about death and worse. As I was listening to this I was wondering how in the world I was going to respond positively to this kind of poetry.

never.judge.a.bookquoteHe finished and I said “It looks like you’ve got some real talent. Though I personally write a little different. Most of what I write comes from a place of peace and hope”. He said “Oh I can write different stuff. I have another one you might like better.” He then got close to me and looking me directly in the eyes the entire time he recited from memory one of the most beautiful pieces of poetry I have ever heard. It brought tears to my eyes. I told him that the poem was beautiful and if he was interested he could write it down and give a copy to Adam and I would put some music to it. His eyes lit up and he said he would. We shook hands and then Adam came out.

Sometimes old sayings are around so long because of their inherent truth. That day I learned you most definitely cannot judge a book by its cover. In thinking about the event afterwards I realized how quickly we judge others by outward appearances and even by the things they do. I’m sure this young man had experienced things in his life I could never imagine and had been in many dark places. But his true heart was expressed to me in the last poem because that type of poetry could only come from there. How grateful I was to have taken the time to talk to him and get to that point and what a tremendous loss it would have been had I judged him solely by the first half of our meeting.

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A wonderful short but true story about how one man learned a powerful lesson about judging others. This is a message that everyone could benefit from!

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A wonderful short but true story about how one man learned a powerful lesson about judging others. This is a message that everyone could benefit from!

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27 Comments

  1. Darlene

    What a wonderful post. I loved reading it. ” I’m sure this young man had experienced things in his life I could never imagine and had been in many dark places. ” This is so true for many of us unless we’ve walked a mile in his shoes. Thanks for sharing.

    Reply
  2. What a powerful story! I think a lot of us struggle with this, and I think there is a lot of good to be found in people when we take a closer look. Bless you for taking the time to listen to this young man!

    Reply
  3. Tonya G

    I enjoyed this post very much.
    I come from a very trobled past, full of abuse and crulity.
    As a result I have 21 tattoos, all to cover the scars from my childhood.
    To look at me in a tank top and shorts, I to would be judged. But I am the sweetest person you could ever met. I would rather be judged by my tattoos then to look in the mirror and remember the story that goes with each of my scars.

    Reply
    1. Nancy & Roy Author

      Thank you so much Tonya for sharing that. I bet you are not only incredibly kind but very empathic and more courageous than most of us. I’ll share your comment with Roy and we both wish you nothing but peace, love and happiness!

      Reply
  4. Thank you for stopping in and linking up with us this week on #TheWeekendSocial. We love your ideas and hope to see you again this weekend on KitchenDreaming.com. We have pinned, stumbled your article.

    Reply
  5. Lysa from Welcome to My Circus

    What a wonderful post… I teared up a little because it truly touched my heart. I have tried to do my best never to judge another because you never know what they have been through that has brought them to this place in time in life. I have raised my children to be kind, loving, and caring to everyone they meet. Now that they are teenagers I have witnessed those attributes in the both of them for they are always bringing home “stray” children who are misunderstood.

    I’m sure you made a huge difference in that young man’s life by seeing through the dirt and the tattoos to the wonderful soul and heart he was hiding. You sound like a wonderful person and I am so glad you linked up with us at the Oh My Heartsie Girls Wordless Wednesday Link Party and that i was able to stop by and read this post. Although it may have been a story from the past it was a nice reminder that there are still a lot of good people in this world!

    Wishing you a wonderful day!

    xx
    Lysa
    Co-Host

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      Thank you so much Lysa for taking the time to comment like that. I’m so happy that you enjoyed the article. We do live in times where quick judgement seems to be pervasive. My husband has had an interesting life and will be sharing other personal inspiring stories in the future. I will see he reads your comment.

      Nancy

      Reply
  6. Thereasa @ Shoestring Elegance

    Hi Nancy & Roy, Theresa from Shoestring Elegance and the What to do Weekend’s Party. I just wanted to pop by and tell you that we just Featured your wonderful post over @ the party! Come grab your Featured button and thank you for sharing this very important story, very touching and needed! Thank you for sharing and for linking up with us! –

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      Thank you so kindly Thereasa. I will link to your post at the bottom of mine and I will also share it on all my social networks. We sure appreciate you choosing that particular post to feature. Ü

      Reply
  7. Great post. This sounds a little like my story, the “being judged by my cover” part. I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty nice guy but with “only a face a mother could love” or that’s how I thought of myself. I grew up with a lot of bullying in my life because of my appearance, all the while still treating people with respect as I had been raised. Unfortunately, I soon became addicted to marijuana in my late teens which continued for 16 years. Smoking weed made me feel good about myself and I didn’t care what people thought. It took the pain away. To cut the story short, I’ve since been clean and sober for nearly 4 years because I realised I didn’t need the weed to feel good about myself. What other people think of me doesn’t matter. I’ve got a fantastic life now with a wonderful girlfriend and I just wish more people were like you, to take us as you find us and not judge on outward appearances. Thanks for a great post.

    Damo
    Brisbane, Australia

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      Thank you so much Damo for sharing that. I’m so glad that this post touched you. I’m heartsick that you had to go through such trials but so glad that you came out with the realization that you did. Many people become angry and less than kind individuals because of experiences such as yours. The fact that you kept your inner self true speaks to your integrity and strength. I’ll share your comment with my husband Roy who wrote that article. It will mean a lot to him to hear it. Ü

      Wishing you a life of happiness and joy!
      Nancy

      Reply
  8. We can only imagine some of the great people we may have met if we didn’t judge by looks. Some of the nicest and gentlest people I have met, people would cross the road to avoid. Life is too short to stand in judgement of people just because of the way they look, but unfortunately we still do it.

    People should be able to be who they are (as long as who they are doesn’t mean they are vile or nasty to others) without judgement. After all there are many smart/attractive/well respected people who should never be trusted, but they are because of how they look.

    Excellent post.

    Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      Thank you so much Debbie for your comment. Unfortunately we do live in a pretty judgmental society. Appearance has nothing to do with what’s in a person’s heart. I’ll make sure Roy reads your comment as I know he’ll really appreciate it too.

      Have a wonderful day!
      Nancy

      Reply
    1. Nancy Author

      Your story is indeed a great one. There are so many people out there who get immediately dismissed for various reasons. Especially the homeless. Thanks Heather for sharing that and for commenting!

      Reply
  9. EVO 'n' OVE

    The Reverend Peyton wrote a song about this. It is called “You can’t judge a book by it’s cover”. It is one of our favorite songs. I have dealt with this problem my whole life. Thanks for putting it up. Peace+Joy+Love.

    Reply

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