Posted on October 4, 2016
The Clash of the Women Conventions
Or what happens when the Tennessee Titan Cheerleader Tryouts,
the Junior League of Nashville, and the Tennessee Red Hat Society
end up at the Grand Ole’ Opry Hotel at the same time?
The Grand Ole Opry convention planner who booked the Tennessee Titan cheerleader tryouts, Junior League of Nashville, and the Tennessee Red Hat Society on the same weekend must have had a wicked sense of humor or someone paid her to create a sociology experiment on the evolution of females. At the time, my age disqualified me to join any of these groups so I sat back, took notes, and waited for the cross-cultural interactions to begin.
There ended up being no Clash of the Women Conventioneers. Their orbits never intersected.
The 20-something Barbie-bodied bumped obliviously into the 20-30’s Junior Leaguers who in turn ignored the 50-plus burnt-out nice women, many of whom weren’t seeing anything clearly soon after registration.
The beauties with the buffed bodies and bleached teeth and hair practiced dance routines in various convention hallways and checked themselves in available mirrors. “Seasoned” cheerleaders (probably in their early 30s) inspected the new crop with critical eyes, knowing they would soon be out of “season.”
The Junior Leaguers never saw the cheerleaders. They had places to go and people to see. Their attire was much more subtle and tasteful. They even smelled “significant.”
The Red Hat Ladies wobbled through these other two groups with drinks in hand and purple boas hiding their necks. I asked one of them what the purpose of their group was. She rolled her eyes, and said, “Honey, our whole purpose is to have no purpose but fun. We’ve worked way too hard way too long and been way too nice to everybody else and now it’s time to be nice to ourselves.”
Her comment has haunted me for ten years. Was a red hat the inevitable reward to a “nice” life?
How do we break the downward spiral of trying-too-hard to too-tired-to-try anymore? Of pleasing everyone to pleasing no one but ourselves? Is this “Year of Not Being Nice” experiment just a way to join the growing club of “No More Mr./Ms.Nice” people?
The Apostle Paul could have been taking notes at the Grand Ole Opry that weekend as he wrote to the Galatian bobbleheads (see previous post) who had gotten off the gospel track, either back to the hamster wheel of performance or onto the lounge chair of disillusionment.
For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value.
The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
You were running a good race.
Who cut in on you to keep you from obeying the truth?
Galatians 5:6-7 NIV emphasis added
Neither performing to please others nor being nice (or not nice) matters. What counts is why you do what you do, be it cheerleading, service organizations, or community fun groups.
My question this Not-Nice Year is how do I live with freedom, intention, kindness, and joy for a lifetime? And how do I steer clear of bitterness, exhaustion, or giving up? When I start feeling resentful or disappointed, I’ve begun asking myself “Is this faith expressing itself through love?” Or was what I did, joined, or gave motivated out of fear, guilt, or just because I couldn’t say no?
Being nice to be noticed, rewarded, or to pave the way to Heaven ends in despair and exhaustion, and for some, a red hat. Believing, because of Christ, we’re loved no matter our age, what we look like, how much we do (or don’t do), or how nice or nasty we are, fuels us to love without agenda or payback, but with faith and gratitude.
So, which convention would you want to attend? What will help you stay in your “ good race” until the end?
Grand Ole Opry photo by Ron Cogwell