We are often told not to judge a book by it's cover. We have taken that statement -that is directed towards inanimate objects and applied it in a way that we now use it as a reminder not to judge others. Don't judge a person by their looks. Or don't judge a person based on their actions, etc, etc. But what about judging a book by it's reviews? Or judging a person based on what others are saying about them? Yes, we can gain some insightful knowledge from the reviews of the book, but they are simply one persons opinion. You may have a completely different opinion and you might end up really loving a book that had bad reviews or vice versa. If you went about life only reading the books that had the good reviews, think of all of the books with bad reviews that you read and enjoyed you would have missed out on. Or think of the people who you would have missed out on being friends with had you listened to what others were saying.
This was definitely a hard thing for me about a year, year and a half ago. I listened to what other people had to say about a person, and if the things that were said were always positive or good things, then I would take the time to get to know the person, but if they were the opposite, I generally didn't take the time to get to know someone for myself. I automatically formed my opinions off of those I was around. It was about the time the YSA wards were changing that I realized I was doing this. But I didn't think much of it . The wards were changing, I was probably never going to see these people again. So I didn't change my ways. I continued to allow what others said about people to be what was always at the front of my mind when I was around them.
It was about a month after the wards changed, so like June of 2011, when I realized something needed to be done. I felt like every Sunday School lesson, every Relief Society lesson, and every Institute class the topic of judging others would always come up. I tried to ignore it. Because it always made me feel so guilty for how harshly I had judged a few people.
I remember so clearly sitting in an institute class and someone shared a scripture (Matt 7:1-5). I knew right then, right there that I needed to have a change of heart. I wrote the following in my Institute Journal: "I will be honest when I say that I was rather quick to judge Colby. I never really got to know him before I heard many stories of him. So I went off those stories instead of getting to know him. I tried so hard to push past those stories- but I never fully did. They were always there." A few days prior to this institute class I had been at a stake activity with Whitney and I ran into Colby. I hadn't seen him since the wards had changed, so I wasn't sure if I should say hi or not. (Obviously I didn't think we were the greatest of friends...) I took a chance and I yelled his name and waved. He came over and gave me a hug and we talked for a second. Later that night Whitney was playing Ultimate Frisbee and I was just watching when I saw Colby. So I went over and started talking to him. That was the first time I had ever really had a real conversation with him, and let me tell you, my respect, and the way I thought of him changed completely. It was like a 360 degree change. That night I went home and I emailed him telling him I was very grateful for the opportunity that we had to talk, and how my respect for him had changed immensely. I was later informed that he greatly appreciated hearing that from me, and that he had been trying to gain my respect for some time. I don't think I have ever had anything hit me so hard before. It was seriously a slap in the face.
So that was last June, almost a year ago. Things have changed even more since then. (Didn't think it was possible? Yeah, me either.) I didn't think that I would ever see or talk to him after that incidental run in. And quite honestly, I don't think I really did see him at all for a few months. Fall semester started and I was attending UVU. I was spending a lot of time on campus with my good friend Alicia. There were a few times she would compare me to Colby and I think I was still letting those previous judgements through, because I really didn't enjoy being compared to him. Ask Alicia. I would get so frustrated and try to figure out what made us alike and I would try to change my behavior.
Fast forward a few months. Spring semester was starting and Colby was going to be down at UVU. I didn't think much of it, because honestly I still didn't see us as good friends or anything so I thought the chances of running into him, and talking to him were pretty slim. I was certainly wrong on that account. Pretty soon institute chats with Alicia and Colby were my favorite part of the day. There were days when I really just didn't want to be at school, and I would have rather gone home than stay at the institute, but I would tell myself it would all be worth it because that hour at the institute was the best hour ever. As the semester went on those chats just grew and grew. I soon found that those previous judgements I had about Colby were gone. I didn't care what others thought of him, or said of him. I had finally gotten to know him myself, written my own review if you will. I am constantly amazed at how that opinion continues to change, and (for the most part) grows.
I am so so so very grateful for the lesson that I learned a year ago, even if it had to be drilled into my head a thousand times. I never would have taken the time, nor allowed myself, to let my opinion of Colby change. Everything that people had told me about him would have stayed in my head. I would have lost out on a great friendship, all because I was too stubborn to find out for myself who he was. Back a year and a half ago, my thoughts were always "Oh, we'll never be friends", "I don't really want to be friends with him", or "he's a bit too crazy", quite simply my main thought was, "there is no way I could ever be friends with him". Over the past few months he has grown to be someone I look up to, someone I look forward to seeing and talking to. He is someone that I feel I would be able to turn to if I was ever in need of help, someone I could trust. I never never would have found that had I not gotten over myself, and over my pride and taken the time to get to know him, and not the "reviews" about him.
So the moral of this seemingly long post is simple. Don't judge a book by it's cover or it's reviews. Don't judge a person by what others are saying about them. Even if it is 50% good and 50% bad. The bad will always stick out more than the good. Take the time to get to know someone. Be nice to everyone you meet. Give people a chance, heck give them a second chance. You never know what kind of friendship you could be missing out on.