The Parable of the Big Cookie: What I Learned About Making Assumptions at Church

Here is the ridiculous and ineffective way in which I live my life: if I have treats within my reach, I eat them. I used to have the metabolism for this. No more. So I’m doing my best in this stage of my life to just avoid buying the treats in the first place.

However, I was at a day-long conference a couple of years ago and made the conscious, rational decision to have a treat with my lunch. I selected a single “big cookie,” knowing that I would consume in its entirety whatever I purchased, so the only way to limit myself to a reasonable number of calories was to buy just one item.

I ate the nutritious portion of my lunch and turned with anticipation to the cookie. Then, like an idiot, as I was unwrapping it, I started to read the nutrition information on the label. I scanned the tiny type until I found the line I was looking for: “Calories per serving: 160.” Oh, good job!

Alas, I continued reading: “Servings per container: 4.”

Are you kidding me? Who in her right mind invites her three closest friends to share her one cookie? I can’t tell you how disillusioned I was with the food industry for what seemed like an incredibly deceptive way to spin that nutrition info.

When I calmed down, it occurred to me that a person who insists on consuming large cookies probably deserves the letdown if she’s dumb enough to read the nutrition info. But it did seem as if I ought to be able to assume that one cookie would be intended to be fully consumed by one person.

This has caused me to reflect on the whole idea of the assumptions we sometimes make. They may seem logical at the time, but upon reflection many of them just don’t hold up.

For instance . . .

“No one likes me in this ward.” On what evidence would you base that assumption? “Well, they never sit by me in Relief Society.” Where do you sit? Are you always the first one there, and they file in around you and are careful to leave a wide berth? Or is it possible that you come in and sit alone instead of choosing a seat next to someone?

“I’ve blown my diet now; I might as well just give it up and eat what I want.” Maybe you had a binge today. You really can start fresh tomorrow. You don’t have to toss the whole plan just because it didn’t work out perfectly today.

“I’m too old to sky dive.” Well, that one may be true. But if you really, truly wanted to sky dive, I’ll bet you could contrive a way to do it, regardless of your age. George H. W. Bush did it to celebrate his 80th birthday, remember?

I’m just saying, if you look closely at some of your assumptions, they might turn out to be as ridiculous as the thought that you might split one cookie four ways. Try it and see.

Image titleAdapted from I Hate It When Exercise Is the Answer by Emily Watts. Now available at Deseret Book and deseretbook.com. Emily is also a presenter at TOFW: Time Out for Women events. You can see her in Lethbridge, Alberta on May 6-7, and other TOFW events this fall