Always Nice


I treated my friends better than my family. Then a birthday “compliment” from a five-year-old woke me up.

Starting about two years ago it seemed that my younger sister and I just couldn’t get along. Then, gradually, everything my little brothers did bothered me, too. Soon, every time I would see any of them, I would almost immediately say “Go away.” Sometimes I would be patient, but it didn’t seem to last long.

We have a family tradition that on every birthday, we say things we like about the person whose birthday it is. On my last birthday my five-year-old brother, Lucas, said, “Well, I like Anna because sometimes she is nice to me.” That hurt. I wondered why it was so easy for me to get along with my friends and so hard for me to get along with my family.

As a family we are always reading a good book together. The book we were reading during this time was The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. It’s the story of a “devil-in-training” and the letters of advice he receives from his boss, who is named Screwtape. One night we read this advice from Screwtape: “Let him think if he ever meets a German he will be kind to him; but his neighbors, the people he associates with every day, let the little things about them annoy him.” I was in a hurry that day and didn’t really think about what I had read until later. Then I started thinking about the people that I associate with every day. Of course the first people that came to my mind were the members of my family. I tried to put the thought aside, but it immediately came back. I realized that that was how Satan was working on me. He was getting me to think about everything that bothers me about the people I live with, so that I would prefer being with my friends over being with my family. I knew that I was impatient with my brothers and sister way too often. So I set a goal to be kinder to them. On my next birthday, I would love to hear someone say, “I like Anna because she is always so nice to me.”

In my nightly prayers I pray that I might have the courage to withstand the temptation to lose my temper. I still lose my patience, but with Heavenly Father’s help I have been doing a lot better.

[illustration] Illustrated by Steve Kropp