Our book club book this past month was "The Secret Life of Bees." While I generally enjoyed the book, and definitely enjoyed the discussion raised by the issues in it, there was one scene in particular that really stuck with me.
The protagonist of the book, Lily, comes to stay with three older unmarried sisters in a house painted "Pepto Bismol pink." When Lily confronts August, one of the women, about why the odd colour, the explanation is heartwarming. One of sisters experienced a sort of mental retreat after a tragedy during her teen years. As a result, the other two sisters spent much of their time trying to protect her from the harshness of the world. When August went to pick out a colour to paint the house exterior, her sister May set her heart on the loud shade of pink. "She so rarely sets her heart on anything that I figured it was a sacrifice I could make for her."
In our discussion of the book, everyone expressed how sweet they thought it was that August would make such a sacrifice, knowing what people might think of such an odd colour. But what immediately jumped into my mind was "I wonder if she would have felt the same if her other "well" sister had made such a demand." More than likely, August would have said "you're crazy, I'm not painting my house pink," and picked a more appropriate neutral colour.
That made me think of those I love in my own life, and the decisions I'm not willing to yield on because of what others might think, or because I don't particularly agree. In the grand scheme, what would a pink house really matter to me? Very little, but maybe it matters a great deal to someone I love.
What things do I scoff, or brush off, that might be an area in which I could concede? Who knows but that concession might mean a great deal to my husband or children or family member or friend? And even if it's not a big deal to them, might that concession result in a little bit of peace or happiness for them?
I shudder to think of the times I've dug in my own heels instead of practicing a little charity, especially toward those I love most. It's true that those closest to us get the worst of us, as we try to present our best side to those outside our home and then often break down and lash out at our spouses and children. The image of that pink house is seared in my mind now, and I hope that in the future I can humble myself to give in areas like this.