Too Good for Our Own Good
One of the things people like about Mormons is how nice we are. Aren’t we taught from the time we are Sunbeams that “kindness begins with me”? Mostly I think it’s nice to be nice. Except that as women we are also expected to be sweet and gentle, which means that sometimes we overdue the kind thing and end up martyring ourselves on an alter of niceness. For no good reason! Two small examples:
Last weekend a few of us went to dinner. One woman ordered a chocolate chip pie that looked fabulous. Except it wasn’t. She didn’t complain, but we could all tell by the way she picked at it that it sucked. So someone suggested she send it back. Oh. My. Gosh. My mild mannered friend flipped out. “Don’t you dare tell the waitress I don’t like it,” she begged us. The waitress happened to walk by and as my kind friend was profusely apologizing for our bad manners, the waitress said, “Listen, why should pay for something you don’t like? Why on earth are you eating it? It’s not like I made it, and even if I did, who cares?” The server reaches for the pie and our friend just sinks into the booth and covers her face. I roll my eyes and wondering why people have no backbone. Myself included.
Fast forward two days when I am in the radiology wing of our hospital getting an ultrasound on my gallbladder. “Now take a big giant breath and hold it…” she says, cramming the ultrasound wand under my right ribcage. Simple enough. I hold still and fill my lungs with air. And wait. And wait. “Exhale, and when you’re ready, let’s do it again.” This goes on for a while, breath, hold, exhale. Breath, hold, exhale. The technician tells me to take my time inbetween, to catch my breath. But I can’t bring myself to take a rest, even though I am getting lightheaded and my lungs are starting to burn. I need to be the Ideal Patient. I do not want to take more than my slotted time lest I contribute to the over crowded waiting room. I can be a good girl and pass out on my own time. I may have gallstones but by golly, I will make sure they are the most thoughtful, self-sacrificing of stones around. Maybe this can count as a value experience in the Personal Progress category of Martyrdom?
We do it all the time. Put ourselves last out of niceness, out of duty, out of habit, out of guilt. And while the Savior did say, “And the last shall be first,” I don’t think He intended us to turn meekness into chronic self-sacrifice. So next time you are eating a mediocre dessert, holding your breath, or doing any number of stupid things that come under the “I can just suck it up” category, stop. Stop and ask yourself, who is benefiting here? What is the cost? Is it worth it? Sometimes, it is. But other times it isn’t. Have the courage to know the difference.