How many times have you heard someone say, Don’t judge a book by it’s cover?
I bet, like me, you’ve heard that so many times that the word but comes right after it when you use it as part of an explanation, right before you judge somebody or something. I’m guilty of this, too, because I’m human and because old adages like that become cliches, and cliches become annoying and we don’t treat them as truth after a certain point. Even though songs are written about them. (See below!)
BUT… What if we did treat it as a truth?
What if we saw past the covers people slip on in the mornings and we paid attention to the person rather than the mask? What if we stopped comparing our insides to their outsides, for better and for worse?
Bo Diddley agrees:
Think of the cover or covers you slip on in the morning. Happiness, when you’re crying inside? Perfection, when you’re desperate for something other than what you have? Contentment, when you’re deeply entrenched in envy? Joy, when your heart is breaking into a thousand pieces? Strength, when you feel like you’re about to buckle? Beauty, when you’re working harder than ever to feel worthy of someone’s love? Or, reverse (because this happens, too): envy, when you’re actually pretty content. Or you’re the loudest one in the room, when you’re just looking for one, close, quiet friend but you’re not sure how to do that.
Whatever it is, we can admit two things: one, we all have at least one cover we hide under, and two, we judge others’ covers assuming they’re touting their advantages over others’ disadvantages, instead of seeing it for what it is: the same kind of cover we slip on every single day, sometimes before we’re even out of our own front doors.
Now, I am not saying that you are walking around being inauthentic and fake with everyone you meet just because you wear a proverbial mask. We all have our survival mechanisms for getting through the day. And we cannot share ourselves with every single person with whom we come into contact; that would be overwhelming and weird. The cashier at Walmart doesn’t need to know your deepest wound from childhood.
What the cashier at Walmart does need, though, is your grace in knowing that she is putting on a mask for the time being just like you are. She doesn’t need any judgment on the fact that she works at Walmart. She doesn’t need any judgment on the jewelry she’s choosing to wear or the way she did her hair that day. She has her reasons, just like you have your reasons for whatever you’re doing and whatever you’re wearing. You deserve that same grace right back.
Life is tough enough as it is. We don’t need to judge each other by the masks we wear. We don’t need to judge each others’ stories by the covers we place over them in our day-to-day living. We need to uplift and encourage each other. Hold each other up instead of bringing each other down. Show kindness and extend grace.
Stevie Wonder agrees, too:
I’m telling you, this could change our world.