Throughout my life I have always been fortunate to have great friends. When I was pregnant with my first child and about to quit working to become a stay-at-home mom, I was feeling a little apprehensive about the upcoming changes and was in need of a good friend. One Sunday we were sitting in church when I saw a new young couple come in and sit down in a pew across the room and I recognized the female counterpart instantly.
It was “Know-It-All-Head.” I recognized her from a college class we had shared. She always used to sit in the same spot and though we never spoke to each other, I nicknamed her “Know-It-All-Head” because she was constantly correcting and challenging the professor (a.k.a. the grad student who didn't really know anything but pretended to be an expert). At church that day it wasn’t long before we approached each other in mutual recognition and in accompanying mutual desperation, we made a date for lunch. We have been friends ever since.
Our friendship hasn’t been one of sheer platitudes and niceties. She tells me the honest truth, I tell her what I really think, then we toast our Diet Cokes and move on to more interesting topics like whether she should highlight her hair before or after her cruise. It’s quite remarkable. She is fiercely loyal, strong, opinionated, resourceful, creative, and smart. We can have conversations of equal length about the death penalty or whether to have a pirate birthday party theme for our kid. When we start a conversation with, “Real quick…” it is anything but. If one of us says, “Hey, opinion question…” be prepared to have a clear stance on the superiority of organic vs. regular, and if we start out with, “Can I just go off for a minute?” then get comfortable. As it turns out, Know-It-All-Head makes some good points.
So here’s the story. Several months ago my friend and her family were preparing to move and she was a little concerned that her strong personality would alienate her new associates at church before they really got to know her. So my husband made her a deal. For SIX MONTHS at church she couldn’t make any controversial comments, share any opinions, or make sarcastic remarks to the person sitting next to her. If she could go a whole six months, Cory would pay to take her and her husband to dinner at their favorite restaurant. [Reason #39 of why we are friends: Highly motivated by food.] The very first Sunday in their new ward would prove to be difficult when the Sunday School teacher asserted his opinion as doctrine, but others in the class chimed in and saved her from having to lose this bet on its first leg of the race. Week after week her challenge got easier, and she settled into emphasizing her easy going and pleasant sides.
Four months later she got a call from her Bishop.
Hours after that she called me. She was a little edgy. It was 10:00 at night, and she was ranting on about how something was our fault.
Apparently the Bishop had an important question for her. As in “We’ve been thinking long and praying hard and feel strongly that you are the person to serve as our new Relief Society President. Will you do it?” Tempted to question his propensity for accurate inspiration and by the way did you know I’m not normally this pleasant? she reluctantly agreed.
Sometimes I call her “President” to her face because I find the rolling of the eyes to be highly rewarding. When she gets hostile on the phone, I accuse of her not acting very presidential and I think she secretly loves that. But it has officially been 6 months, so Friday we made good on our end and took them to dinner. She now spends 15-20 hours a week on the phone or visiting personally with people to assess their needs and address their grievances. One of her biggest challenges so far? People telling her how “sweet” she is. I tell her not to worry, pretty soon they’ll know better than to say such things. In the meantime, I don’t think their Relief Society could be in better hands.