Posted on March 30, 2016
Why This is Not the Year to Call Me “Nice”
I ace all courses on conflict avoidance and other-people’s-anger management. I disappear at a whiff of relational difficulty. So, anytime I’ve stepped into the fight, I remember. Like the time, years ago, when I plucked up the courage to confront a close friend with a truth she didn’t want to hear.
It didn’t go well.
She shut me out. Then about a month later, I saw her at the store. She was light and breezy. When I laughed at some trivial thing she said, she patted my arm and said, “Bless your heart. There’s the Nancy I love.” With those words, she put me back in my place. And I went along. Because that’s what nice people do. I’ve been getting along and staying in my “place” for years with a pat and a “bless your heart.” (Southerners know the real meaning behind that “nice” phrase.)
But no more.
The Year of Not Being Nice can also be called The Year of Being Brave (or the Year of Reading Brene´ Brown) and the Year of That’s Enough.
I’m turning into Howard Beale, the anchorman from the old movie Network.
Howard spews a tirade to his television audience, “I’m mad as %*# and I’m not going to take it anymore.” Then he urges the viewers to throw open their windows and shout it, too. Which they do, in record numbers. (This was before the internet age or he’d be trending with tweets and hashtags. It’d be a new movement #theyearofnotbeingnice.).
So here’s a gentle warning.
This is not the year to pat me on my arm and call me nice.
If you’re backing away from the growling lapdog, whispering, “Hold on—I just said you were nice”—think about why you’re calling someone “nice.” If it’s because they’ll never call you out or call you to more for fear of upsetting you, that’s actually not nice. It’s not doing you (or them) any favors. But if you’re sincerely complimenting someone, I’ll help you find a more specific, less “nothing-much” (see my last post) word:
You could also try: Thin. Beautiful. Brilliant. Those always work when you’re at a loss for words.
This is the year I’m trying to better love my family and friends by speaking truth when needed with clarity, directness, and love. (And even if I have to write it out before speaking, baby steps are better than backing away.) This is also the year I’m not running or cringing when I need to hear the same truths spoken to me. I’m embracing Paul’s command in I Corinthians 16: Stand firm in the faith, be courageous, be strong and do everything in love.
My prayer is that at end of this year, there will be a whole lot of people shouting “I’m not nice and I’m not going to take it anymore.” And they will find the courage to break the noose of niceness they’ve submitted themselves to and stand firm in their God-given places.
That would make me very happy.
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1