By Dawn Graczyk, Sunshine Mom
I am learning that when I make a judgement of a person or place, I am usually quite wrong.
It’s easy to judge people, places, and situations from a distance. We form opinions of those we have or haven’t met based on Twitter and Facebook, and decide whether we like them or not.
Did I Misjudge Stephen King?
So when Marissa and her doctor started talking about Stephen King novels and movies, I wrinkled my nose. How could such an intelligent doctor be remotely interested in such writing. I watched IT, and was not convinced my judgments were in error.
But I began reading his books, mostly to be aware of what my daughter was reading, partly to be able to keep up with conversation. I was taken aback by the spiritual nature of what I was reading, and though I would certainly not look to these books as Christian by any means, I was greatly surprised by the author’s use and understanding of scripture.
While we would certainly have theological disagreements, I appreciated the challenge to my way of thinking, which served to drive me deeper into my Bible and prayer. As characters unfolded, I found King often used the simple to shame the wise and intense plot lines to reveal certain truths about human nature. I found myself actually liking the pieces of himself that Stephen King was sharing.
My motivation for visiting Bangor included stunning cliffside views of the ocean and a lot of lobster at an affordable price. This has been my dream since I was a little girl who explored the world through books.
Marissa, on the other hand, immediately said, “Oh! Stephen King is from Bangor! We have to see his house!” I rolled my eyes. This wasn’t my idea of vacation.
The drive to Bangor from Connecticut was gorgeous and I enjoyed the lupine growing wild in the fields; the rivers and streams; the fresh pine air; signs warning me to watch for moose. I envisioned Bangor as a large city, potentially full of wealthy individuals and a smattering of tourists. I imagined Stephen King’s name all over the place, because, after all, he is their celebrity.
I judged wrong.
The Kind People of Bangor, Maine
Bangor is an unassuming town, full of kind people. The people I encountered were kind and humble. They seem to view Stephen King as just another of their own. They look at us warily; assure us he belongs to them; and guard him from prying eyes. But they are not unpleasant by any means. They are very quick to explain that he and his wife Tabitha are humble, kind, gracious and simply do not want notoriety, fanfare, or even credit for the wealth of good deeds they have done in this town.
We did not meet Stephen King. Some say he no longer resides here, others say he does. We were told through his foundation that he was not in town at the time. Whatever the case, he did something extraordinary.
He left a book for Marissa at his radio station, as well as an autographed book for Marissa’s doctor. The book is incredibly rare and special because it is not yet published. It is one of maybe a hundred rough copies, not yet fully edited. It is personally signed by him, with a personalized message for her. His inscription to her is modest and wishes her well. The words are not of an arrogant or pretentious man. They are not creepy in the least. They are the words of a man wishing to bless those around him.
I’ve told you that when I do make a judgment, it is often wrong. This is why I reserve judgement. The doctor I called unkind names turned out to be the best Marissa and Josiah could have. A bright doctor enjoys creepy movies and horror novels. The author I judged as creepy and arrogant has turned out to be, from my experience and conversation with Bangor locals, one of the kindest and most humble individuals I know of.
Why We Shouldn’t Judge Others
Use my experience and be encouraged. There is a reason God has told us not to judge others. Yes, it is for their good, but it is also for our good. When we judge and form preconceptions, we miss opportunities for joy, adventure and happiness. We also shut the doors that allow empathy and compassion to enter our being.
I have certainly gained understanding and perspective on this trip. People are not always who they seem and appearances can be quite deceiving.
Life is Like a Dot-to-Dot
God has placed a dot-to-dot in front of all of us. God has granted me the most beautiful connections and awe inspiring experiences, but these are not my doing. Sometimes I succeed in connecting the dots He places in front of me, other times I make a terrible mess and need a giant eraser, a chance to go back and start over.
I do not believe I can ever see myself as anything but broken and stubborn; a mother striving to give her kids everything she can. A human hoping to make a dent and smooth a bumpy road for others who will pass behind me.
Your opportunities aren’t the same, because you are chosen to impact a different piece of history and touch lives I cannot. Your journey is just as important; you are no less amazing.
I pray that reading this serves to remind you that each of us has a part to play. If we keep our eyes open, we will see the opportunities placed in our paths, grab them, and recognize them as gifts to give back to others. I pray you will be granted experiences that will shatter your expectations, challenge your thinking, lead to your growth, touch you in a way that will leave you forever changed.
As for me, on this day, I will throw expectations aside, follow God’s leading, and possibly steal some of Stephen King’s strawberries. I don’t think he will mind.
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