You Used to Be Nice

by Randi Holt

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    Hey, what’s with this “used to be”? Aren’t my barbs just harmless jokes?

    One day after having a good time cracking jokes at the expense of one of my closest friends, I began to feel guilty. It had seemed so harmless at the time. I tried to fight off my guilty feelings by telling myself, It was just a joke. She needs to lighten up. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that was all it ever was with me—a joke.

    I couldn’t help but think back to how I had been acting. It had taken me a while to notice, even though others had told me, “You used to be so nice to everyone.” A few had even said, “I remember when you used to never say anything rude about anyone.” At the time I hadn’t thought much of what they were telling me. I just thought it was their problem if they didn’t like it.

    But I really had changed, and it all began with a few harmless jokes. I had always loved to make people laugh, so when people began to tell me how funny I was or ask me how I could come up with such funny things, I naturally loved it. I figured if they liked how funny I was then, they would love it when I really started cracking jokes.

    For a while I was right. But soon I was going overboard and taking two of my best friends with me. People began to feel insecure when they were around me. They were always very uncomfortable. I was even told by a boy who had been one of my good friends the year before that it seemed like I was thriving on making people mad. I don’t see how people like my close friends could have stuck by me. I guess I was just one lucky girl.

    I decided that maybe I should kneel down and pray about what I was doing. I now had a habit that seemed impossible to break. I prayed wholeheartedly, but when an answer didn’t come immediately I began to doubt the Lord would help me. I remembered that sometimes it just takes patience, so I decided to continue praying until I received an answer.

    After a week of prayer both morning and night, I was nearly ready to give up. One day after I finished praying, I propped my head up against the headboard and reached for my scriptures. I closed my eyes for a moment. I was feeling miserable, and I couldn’t help thinking about the story in the scriptures that taught if you wasted your talents you would lose them (see Matt. 25:15–30).

    All of a sudden an answer came to me. If I could get in the habit of doing bad deeds, I could definitely work on doing good deeds until soon I wouldn’t have to think about doing good. It would just come naturally. I knew it wouldn’t be easy at first, but it was definitely a skill I needed.

    I prayed for Heavenly Father to be with me. I began to plan service projects, volunteer for charities, and do many other positive things. It’s been a year since I started. I’m not yet to the point where I would like to be, and it’s not always easy for me to control what I say. But I’m getting there.

    Old habits do die hard. But now I’m working to develop a new, better habit that I hope will be around for a long time.

    Illustrated by Dilleen Marsh