A dear friend recently asked if I wanted to meet up for drinks to solve all of our problems and the world’s. I desperately needed a good laugh, which is a given with this friend, so, I said, “YES!” She wanted to meet at Applebee’s. I told her Applebee’s grossed me out their seats are sticky.
So we went to another local bar/eatery and talked for hours.
We saw a strange thing: A couple we both knew who are well-known, prominent leaders in our community and vocal followers of Christ were sitting at the bar (not the strange part – I’m not one of those Christians…). The couple appeared to be there together, but it was obvious they knew just about everyone else at the bar as they flitted from person to person. The wife was dressed, well, concisely if you know what I mean (I saw boobs and butt cheeks if you really wanna know…). And she just laughed too loud, flipped her hair too often, leaned over the other men at the bar a little too far, and was just all around TOO MUCH. The two of them were rarely side-by-side and spent the evening drinking until their drinking began “showing”. It felt like a scene from “Cheers” – everyone else knew their names and they all seemed a little too much at home. This was obviously not their first rodeo.
They stayed at the bar the entire time my friend and I discussed every marriage, parenting, and career topic – PLUS solved world hunger AND the border wall issue! When we left FOUR HOURS later at 11:00 p.m., the couple still showed no signs of leaving.
As much as I reprimanded myself “Stop it, Cindy. You have no way of knowing what’s really going on. You don’t know their life, their struggles, or their needs. Don’t judge, Cindy. Stop it!” I still found myself just feeling a little yucky from their behavior.
It was confusing. It just didn’t add up.
I do believe “You can’t judge a book by its cover.” To “judge” means to make a final conclusion or verdict about someone or something. It’s never a good idea to make a judgment based on appearances alone. HOWEVER, it’s also true that a book cover often reveals A LOT about what’s inside! We shouldn’t make a judgment, but it’s perfectly acceptable to learn about the book and decide if you even want to open it up based on the cover alone.
WE LEARN ABOUT THE INSIDE BASED ON WHAT THE OUTSIDE IS DOING!
Learning something from appearances and judging them are two totally different things.
If I see a book with this on the cover:
You can be darn sure I won’t even pick it up. It would be unfair of me to say the CONTENT of a book like this isn’t good – I just know that I have really no interest in getting to know this book at all. Math gives me a migraine and makes me want to throw things and yell at people. I want nothing to do with it.
Likewise, the behaviors we observe in other people tell us if we want to know them or their beliefs better or not.
And then I wondered – what if I flip that truth on it’s head?….
Maybe instead of focusing on the appearance of others or concerning myself why someone else’s behavior seems incongruent with the Christ-likeness they profess, maybe I should use those circumstances to remind ME that others are watching ME, too!
Since that bar scene, I’ve been wondering, “What behaviors do I exhibit that at times could be interpreted, or even misconstrued as inappropriate?” “Are there things that I do, say, think, feel, that are also incongruent with the Christ-like life I want to emanate?”
I hope and pray that when I lay my head down at night and replay the day in my mind I’ll have peace that my actions, conversations and activities didn’t confuse people about the gospel. Because those images are then associated with me and it’s hard to shake an image we’ve observed.
Images often stick with us and leave an indelible imprint – just like Applebee’s seats.