Are You Annoyed by Good People?

Than you probably won’t like Fanny Price

“She was of course only too good for him; but as nobody minds having what is too good for them, he was very steadily earnest in the pursuit of the blessing, and it was not possible that encouragement from her should be long wanting.” 
― Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Goodness is a broad character trait, and one that many people love to hate on. Good people make us feel uncomfortable, and when we are uncomfortable there is one of tow reactions. Either we want to be better or we want to get away from good people. Novels with good characters are particularly tricky. I grew up reading Nancy Drew and Elsie Dinsmore books, both of whom are annoyingly good. Nancy Drew is always perfect at everything she tries. At first you don’t notice it, but after reading over 50 books you start to realize there is no way any one person can be that perfect at everything. Elsie is similarly lacking in flaws (although some considered her frequent tears to be a flaw).

Initially Fanny Price may seem to fall into this camp of too-good-to-be-true heroines. However, further examination into her story reveals more layers to her personality and character. Fanny has many natural traits of goodness, but they constantly being tested by the selfishness of the other characters in the story. She is often neglected and belittled for not being someone who sparkles. Being a diamond of society (just a low key Bridgestone reference) is considered more valuable to most people than being a genuinely good human.

“The politeness which she had been brought up to practise as a duty made it impossible for her to escape; while the want of that higher species of self-command, that just consideration of others, that knowledge of her own heart, that principle of right, which had not formed any essential part of her education, made her miserable under it.” 
― Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Fanny receives the short end of the stick when it comes to affection and is even expected to be the reformer of other peoples bad behavior. For her being good is not about skills and attention. It is about living out a faith that is for real for her.

Those who show a willingness to serve and put others before themselves are often taken advantage of. Work is heaped upon the ones who show up to do good, it is assumed that good people will pick up our slack and make themselves available when we require it.

“The gentleness, modesty, and sweetness of her character were warmly expatiated on; that sweetness which makes so essential a part of every woman's worth in the judgment of man, that though he sometimes loves where it is not, he can never believe it absent.” 
― Jane Austen, Mansfield Park

Being a good person is frustrating, because it is the antithesis of selfishness. Selfish people make everyone around them miserable. Yet we would rather be around a selfish person because we can compare ourselves favorably. Next to a good person we often feel that we are wanting. Fanny’s goodness inspires some and aggravates others. On the spectrum of our selfishness let us hope to be inspired by goodness rather than feel discontent or envy.

Fanny may often be discouraged by the neglect of others, yet in the end her goodness is what brings both love and respect. The spoiled and selfish persons are left to their own devices while Fanny is promised a life that suits her exactly. Selfishness is never satisfied, while goodness is able to be content.

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For the Ears

It was a delight to listen to Emily Freeman talk about her favorite shoes on her podcast The Next Right Thing. She loves clogs and I love clogs, which is working out because they are the closest height for my boot that I finally am walking in. Personally, I would love to get these red Lotta from Stockholm sandals.

Spotify has a full playlist of Jane Austen Soundtracks which might be a good mood for your summer days.

Mama Bear Chats is back for a new season. Carsten and I talk about party etiquette and caring for the homeless in the first episode of our new season. I am trying to highlight how this podcast is my way of teaching the kids to have a thoughtful presence on the internet.

For the Eyes

There are some various adaptations of Mansfield Park, and I like this one with Billie Piper, but none of them really do justice to the book.

I love short story collections and just finished Tiny Tales: Stories of Romance, Kindness, Ambition, and Happiness by Alexander McCall Smith, which is really just the perfect collection of stories for summer. They are sweet and funny and short, which is perfect for quick breaks when my kids are clamoring for their next snack.

Sarah Clarkson released her new book This Beautiful Truth last week, a personal look at her journey of mental illness and the application of theology. She is such a poetic writer.

If you are more in the mood for a beachy romance I recommend Love at Wild Harbor for a sweet story of chocolate and fixer upper drama.

For the Taste Buds

Crepes is one of the popular breakfast requests as I get back on my feet and in the kitchen. You can stuff them with all sorts of goodness maybe savory with ham and eggs, sweet with Nutella and strawberries, maybe just filled with the Dandelion jelly we made earlier this spring. Oddly enough I find crepes to more manageable than pancakes or waffles.

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May this week bring goodness to your sense and to your soul.

P.S. On Fridays I have been having lovely conversations with different ladies on IG live. We discuss the fruit of the week and gather some great insights and encouragement from one another. You can check IGTV if you miss it live.

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