Should a Book be Judged by its Cover?

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The question is not a new one, but there are many reasons it is continually asked.

Today I lived several of them.

My energetic son was obviously aching for some quality time at the park, and given that fall has found its way here once again and my husband had the day off, our little family embarked on an adventure together. I packed a picnic lunch and donned some workout clothes so I could take advantage of an opportunity to take a walk while the boys played together.

I should take a second to clarify how said workout apparel looked on this nearly six-months pregnant body of mine. None of what I was wearing was maternity. I dug to the bottom of my drawer and found the lone pair of athletic shorts that fit enough to be considered appropriate, though far from flattering on even my non-expectant body. I took a few extra seconds to find a longer, larger t-shirt and stretched it over my swollen middle. I took exactly five seconds to look in the mirror after getting dressed – enough time to realize that this shirt is fitting even weirder than it did last time. I also noted that my ponytail, which I threw into existence at 6:30 A.M. while I was still half asleep needed tending. Simultaneously, my son ran naked through the house after going potty before we left, so I threw an extra clip in the general bangs area of my head, grabbed his clothes and wrestled to get him dressed while my husband beckoned us to hurry up and get in the car.

If you don’t have a clear enough mental picture at this point, then trust me when I say that I have full faith in the idea that I was not looking all that put together. I pushed this fact aside and decided to focus on the fact that I was actually going to get some exercise in this beautiful weather at one of my favorite parks in the city.

And that’s just what I did. I gave father and son time to run, wrestle, and slide together while I puttered around the track. I returned to them, winded and feeling those Braxton Hicks contractions flaring up in congratulations for completing this rare feat of pregnancy exercise. To celebrate, we took some time to enjoy our lunch before hitting the playground again.

As soon as we turned around to greet the slides, I saw him. Smiling with his expensive news station video camera while recording a dad and his daughter playing. We quickly moved to another part of the playground, but it was as if the trio of father, daughter, and journalist were following us.

I took the opportunity to park it on a bench and rest my still-contracting stomach muscles while the camera man took in footage of my husband looking like the hero that he is, pushing his son on the swing next to another model father with his daughter. I felt awkward, self-conscious, unsure what to do to NOT attract attention to myself. I finally decided to pull my phone out of the bag and text my scenario to a friend. That would take my attention off the camera guy who was obviously eating up this scene of dads with their kids at the park on a glorious autumn morning. Instead, I glanced up to see him zooming the camera in on me.

In horror, I asked him to please stop filming me seeing as how I hadn’t even taken time to fix my hair that day. He acted a bit embarrassed and said he’d move to the side so I wouldn’t know he was there. I put down my phone and watched the kids play some more, but kept feeling that camera guy hovering a few feet away. He eventually moved to some other park attenders, and I sighed a relieved sigh. Those moms at least looked put together in their cute little outfits and styled hair. I pulled out my phone again to finish the text I started earlier, and like a sniper, the camera guy was targeting me again in a flash.

What on earth is up with this guy?!? Out of all the people in this park, playing happily together, why would he single out this obviously pregnant woman who was trying ever so hard to look boring and uninterested in being a part of any news cast.

It was about this time that my unsuspecting husband asked him what he was getting footage for. He admitted, rather sheepishly, that he was doing a piece on texting and parenting. Seeing as how I was the only parent with a phone out, because someone was already watching my child mind you, he was trying to catch me being the evil parent who portrays to the rest of the greater metropolitan area in which I live, what an alarming trend is taking over our nation with parents not being aware of their children’s actions because they’re too engrossed in texting.

I was mortified beyond the level that I had already felt when I learned this. When we began dialoguing about it, he acknowledged that he knew what was happening in my case was completely acceptable, but he needed footage to prove his point.

Ouch! Talk about feeling used and misinterpreted. I have seen first-hand the issue he was trying to capture, and I believe it is a good story, but the humbling part was being used to represent something that I do not do when I’m alone at the park with my son.

I have been struck with the very real truth that I am to never be caught off guard as a Christian. No one else saw my morning, knew my motives, or even witnessed the good things I did as a mom leading up to that moment. The worst part was, the journalist scrutinizing me didn’t care. He just needed my one innocent act as evidence to prove his point, and he was willing to misrepresent me to do it, regardless of what it could do to my reputation.

I hold no hard feelings against the reporter. I talked to him for quite a while, off camera of course, and told him that I thought his story was a good one. So when I share the verse that won’t leave my head as I continue to mull over today’s events, don’t think I believe him to be in any way evil.

Having given that disclaimer, here is the verse I can’t get out of my head:

Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Books should not be completely judged by their covers, in my opinion, but the fact is, human nature does it automatically. That’s why it’s my job to do two important things:

1. Live in such a way that I have no reason to be ashamed or cause another to stumble.
2. Give myself a break when it’s easier to be super sensitive about what others might think of me when I know I’m bringing honor to God. He is the only One whose judgment counts.

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6 thoughts on “Should a Book be Judged by its Cover?

  1. Diana

    I would be really frustrated by that, too!! It’s not fair to be misrepresented as stock footage of bad parenting. In that case, we’re being judged by the cover that someone else created instead of the one we made ourselves. Not that the covers we create for ourselves are always accurate… :/ Tough situation.

    1. Kelly Post author

      I have to say that right after I published this post, I went and watched the newscast. I’m really upset, honestly, at how he edited the video to make me look even more negligent. I have some mental processing to do now. While those who know me would not buy the story, I feel most violated because I cannot prove my character to the general public who gets this one extremely altered version of what really happened. This has become an entirely different issue for me now that I’ve seen the story and witnessed someone breaking his word to me that he would not put my face on camera, let alone editing the video to look like I was the only parent present to watch my child. I guess now it’s an issue of forgiveness.

  2. Desire'

    Wow. There are so many things I could say about this, but mostly, kudos to you and your Christ-like reaction. What an encouragement! I can’t imagine the anger you must be battling (I’m angry for you!) and I pray that God will help you forgive him just as Christ has forgiven you (Eph. 4:32). That verse helps me when I have particularly frustrating instances where I need to forgive. Thanks for sharing your heart and challenging us to rethink what our natural responses to situations should be!

  3. Ashley H.

    Kelly, that is shocking! I will not watch these type of broadcasts the same way, knowing how the footage is obtained! I find it extremely devious for him to choose to film you with your phone when he knew the situation was NOT the actual one he was trying to present. If he cannot find ACTUAL parents neglecting their children so they can text, then either he is extremely lazy and not trying hard enough, or it’s not as big of an issue as he thinks. Seriously. Mama Bear is coming out in me for my friend. grrr…

  4. kelli- AdventurezInChildRearing

    I’ve worked as a journalist – although I understand the pressure to meet deadlines (grueling) I can honestly say – this makes me sick. I wish you had recorded your conversation with him as he told you he would not run it – would not use you deceitfully – he has broken a code among journalists – and possibly the law.

    so sorry!

    I also must add- this type of judging a book by it’s cover can be even more damaging coming from a friend – people who don’t understand our situations do not have a right to demand we be “accountable to them ” in godly pretense. I’ve recently been through that type situation & it was brutal. Working on forgiveness myself – it would be much easier if it hadn’t continued – over and over – or if this “friend” had at least showed some respect when I explained that she wasn’t seeing what she thought she saw. Brutal. So sorry for your lousy experience 🙂

  5. Courtney

    Oh my goodness! This is so awful and frustrating!! I am so sorry that you’ve been through this, Kelly. You don’t deserve to be portrayed in that light, and I hate it for you. I am amazed at how you’ve focused on 1 Peter 5:8 – what a powerful verse. We cannot forget how the devil is active in our world. You keep your head held high and know that our God is on your side. Hugs!


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