The Top Ten Things I Learned from the Year of Not Being Nice


The Year of Not Being Nice was launched because I was tired of being the bobble head N.I.C.E gal and wanted to break free from bland to brave. I didn’t expect my bravery to come from unmasking my motivations for being nice: people pleasing, conflict-avoidance, and brownie-points-to-better-seat-in-Heaven performance. Ouch.

Top 10

Here’s the top ten things I learned this year:

  1. Nice is not in the Bible.   Look it up. Not there. There are no commands to be “nice.” Love. Yes. Fear God. Yes. Fear people. No.
  2. Nice martyrs” (You know the ones: “You take it. I don’t need it anyway. Really.”) are hard to live with. True saints and martyrs live and die for a cause greater than looking good and making others feel bad.
  3. Not being nice means “never having to say you’re sorry” auto-apologizing for things you didn’t do. It’s a hard habit to break. Sorry.
  4. In the game of “no, you go ahead,” let yourself go first sometimes. Take the hot-air balloon ride meant for you.
  5. If you don’t let people know what you want for your birthday, don’t be disappointed when you get a weed eater.
  6. Have the courage to be honest with people and with God. Even if you don’t get what you want.   “Don’t bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn’t a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we’re in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn’t think of such a thing. You’re at least decent to your own children. So don’t you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?” Matthew 7:7-11 The Message
  7. You can survive when the whole world knows you didn’t get what you wanted. It’s not failure. It’s vulnerability, courage, and resilience. Brené would be proud.
  8. Bobble heads belong on your shelf, not on your neck. (Bobble-heading is the smiling and nodding mask nice people put on while shutting down when being dissed by confident, confrontational people with lots of words.) Instead breathe, pause, stand firm, and speak up.
  9. Standing firm and speaking up is hard. But it’s worth it.
  10. You don’t have to be nice to be loved. There’s no checklist or competition to get God’s attention or win his favor. We are all his favorite children, no matter if we’ve blatantly blown it like the prodigal son or bitterly behaved like the elder brother. That’s what his grace (favor) is all about.

This journey I’ve been on this Year of Not Being Nice has led to empowerment, just not my own. It’s a power that comes from the One who died and was raised for all the “awfully nice” people like me who realize they can’t “nice” their way into Heaven.

So what is the theme of my next year?

After twelve months of “nice” navel-gazing, it’s time to forget myself and live like the free and forgiven woman I am.

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

Instead of trying to be nice for all the wrong reasons, I’ll refocus that wasted energy into a year of showing intentional (not “random,” but that’s for another post) kindness to others and myself. I’m calling it the Year of Jubilee, the year God mandated every 50 years that all prisoners and slaves be set free, property returned, land allowed to rest, and all debts forgiven. It’ll be a year of resting, forgiving myself and others, and enjoying being free. Wahoo!

So be content with who you are, and don’t put on airs. God’s strong hand is on you; he’ll promote you at the right time. Live carefree before God; he is most careful with you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 The Message








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