There are rules that get drilled into our heads as a children.
"Don't run with scissors."
"No swimming after you eat."
"Don't talk to strangers."
But one that sticks out in my head today is: "Don't judge a book by it's cover."
An ugly part of my past (that I don't like admitting) is that I have not always lived by this rule. I often walked around with a very judgmental attitude. It's a part of my past that has left me with many regrets, many burnt bridges, and yet it is a part of my past that has also allows me to see God's grace and transformational power.
About 7 years ago, a new book appeared on my bookshelf. True to form, I judged. And I judged harshly. In all reality I didn't give this book a chance. I didn't care what the inside read. I didn't even care to read the synopsis on the back cover. I didn't think I needed this book or wanted this book in my life. But this book was persistent, not necessarily with the objective to win me over, but more to prove consistency and character. This book wasn't perfect. There were some creases from previous dog-eared pages, some coffee rings could be seen throughout the chapters, and the pages were yellowed from years passed. Despite the imperfections this book never claimed to be anything it wasn't. Throughout the years there were moments I shut my eyes to the book's presence on my bookshelf. How childish to cling to the "out of sight out of mind" philosophy. However, this book remained. Life took some awkward turns for me, yet this book remained. There were choices I made in my life that clearly deserved a raised eyebrow, and this book remained. I would have moments where I was mean and irrational and hurtful. This book remained. There were moments where I caught a glimpse of how wrong I was. This book remained. This book has been consistent. And even though we have had a few bumps and bruises along the way, this book's character and love has spoken volumes over the years.
I sit here today, thankful for second chances. Thankful for the power of forgiveness and of a changed heart. Thankful that I have been knocked off whatever high horse I once thought I was worthy of riding. I sit here today unsure how long this book will remain on my shelf. How I wish I could take back years of stupidity, of pride and youthful arrogance, and exchange them for all I have learned and now know. But I can't. My past is my past. My mistakes are my mistakes. I have wasted some precious time. But moving forward, things are different. There is now laughter and appreciation. Healing and forgiveness. There is a bond that has been growing for the past few years and each day I realize it's importance. Even more so today.
I have come to appreciate this book, respect this book, love this book. I have learned from this book and have become a better woman by it's influence. This book has taught me persistence and strength. This book has brought happiness and comfort. This book bleeds selflessness and generosity. The unconditional love this book has lavished over my life, even in the most undeserving times, makes me cherish the story so much more. This book is filled with stories of hope, of faith, of strength and of love. And those who have read it, and continue to flip through it's pages are changed for the better.
I am changed for the better.
This book will always hold a dear place on my life's bookshelf and even a more special place in my heart.
To my special book, I love you and I am thankful for all you have been and continue to be in my life.