Updated on August 8, 2016
How Would You Answer This Question?
Are you willing to make a decision which would cost someone else?
Bill, my husband, and I are opposites on the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® except for one: we’re both perceivers. We never stop seeking more options and hate coming to closure. It’s a “nice” way to say we stink at decision-making. Behind it is a deep desire to find and do God’s will and a deeper fear of “choosing poorly” as is emblazoned on our minds after seeing Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.
We’d prefer God to write the “right” choice in the sky instead of following his guidebook where he says he is pleased by a faith which acts without seeing concrete answers in cloud formations.
This year as we faced a major life choice, we started having flashbacks to former torturously long decision-making seasons. So we chose (wisely) a patient counselor who listened to the endless possibilities we generated for this next life step. He asked Bill a few questions.
Then he turned to me and hit the bull’s eye of my Nice Nancy people-pleaser dartboard.
He asked, “Are you willing to make a decision which would cost someone else?”
Say that again.
“Are you willing to make a decision which could cost someone else?”
I knew exactly what he was asking. I was merely using my well-honed delay techniques to find the nearest exit. To make a decision that someone wouldn’t like, that would make them sacrifice, or do something they didn’t want to do made every fiber in my being say NO. It wasn’t from a godly sense of self-forgetfulness and selflessness but from a deep-seated dread of disappointing or angering them.
I am the queen of adaptability and flexibility. My niceness-neurons read the body language of those around me, sniffing out what I think will make them happy—or at least not miffed at me. My answer to “What would you like to do?” has always been, “Oh, it doesn’t matter. Whatever makes you happy.”
The counselor wouldn’t let me go autopilot as he asked me, “So, what would you like to do?” Bill wanted to know, also.
I’ve adapted to those around me so long that my true desires are buried below layers of a “whatever makes you happy makes me happy” façade. I’ve spent The Year of Not Being Nice digging down to my real desires.
Knowing what I want and learning to ask for it without manipulation or expectation has been an amazing side benefit of this “not-nice” experiment. I’ve found I can survive when the whole world knows I didn’t get what I wanted. I’ve redefined it from failure to vulnerability, courage, and resilience. (Thanks, Brene!)
But this next step to allow someone to sacrifice their desires for mine is harder.
In this decision, what I want means Bill has to die to one of his dreams. The humbling thing is that he is willing (and even delighted) to sacrifice to give me my desires as well as my needs. It takes me back to one of the key verses for our marriage and my relationship with God.
“Delight yourself in the LORD and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4 ESV
The question “Are you willing to make a decision which will cost someone else?” nailed my need to be nice.
Can I trust that someone will love me enough to yield their desires for mine? That I am worth it, even if I’m not nice? If I can’t accept this sacrifice from Bill, how can I accept the ultimate sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross?
It cost Jesus everything to save me and he delighted to do it.
I have to accept that I am loved that much.
Am I worthy? No.
Am I worth it? Jesus said, “Yes.”
I am delighted that, for my sake, Jesus “chose wisely.”
For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you by his poverty might become rich. II Corinthians 8:9 ESV (bold added)
So, how would you answer the question:
“Are you willing to make a decision which will cost someone else?”
P. S. Another side benefit from this not-nice year? I’m learning (very slowly) the difference between laying down my desires and dreams out of love instead of fear. But I’ll leave that for another post.