being nice hurts

I had something entirely different planned for today’s post, but I read this article about how being nice can stifle relationships and I realized this went along all too well with what I’ve mulled over this past week or so. I realize that long ago, I bought into the lie that being Christian meant simply rolling over in relationships, not rocking the boat, that turning the other cheek meant letting the other person afflict you again and again in the same way. I’ve lived as if Christianity required you to be spineless, self-doubting, unconfident. I’m sorry. I’ve been wrong all these years. Can you forgive me?

Nice: the doormat

Being nice has caused me to be a doormat in many relationships. It stifles and poisons relationships in two ways. One, it doesn’t help the other person treat others the way we’re meant to be treated. Nice doesn’t lovingly correct mistreatment, it refuses to rock the boat; nice reinforces bad relationships and bad relationship habits. Two, being nice reinforces to ourselves that we are second class citizens worthy only of maltreatment and abuse. God doesn’t create for this purpose, much less did He create men and women to settle for this filth. No, we are the daughters and sons of God; we are made to bask in His love and mercy.

Where nice and kind diverge

While nice is preoccupied in steadying the proverbial boat, kind is throwing into the water those that need to learn to swim, then jumping in with a life raft to make sure they don’t drown. Nice downright ignores (on the surface) wrongdoing, while kind acknowledges it and seeks to correct it. Nice is spineless, accepting of evil, while kind stands up for what is good and right.

Nice in my life

As I read the words I type, tears fill my eyes. I see the dichotomy I am trying to highlight and I see how far I’ve erred on the side of being “nice.” I see how I am not the only one. I see flashbacks of broken relationships and how easily they could have been righted by a light rocking of the boat in kindness. I see how backwards and insecure I am as a result of the constant harm being “nice” has inflicted on myself. And I see how easy it would be to merely settle for continuing the trend. But that is death. We were made for life, friend.

Maybe kind is the wrong word to use, but I hope you see what I’m getting at with not settling for being “nice.” When our conduct stops at nice, we all lose. We’re no longer pointing one another toward God and His holiness. We’re no longer living in community, rolling up our sleeves together and living out the dark, dirty places we all will and must travel. We’re ignoring the hard work, disqualifying ourselves from the reward during and after the process. To put it bluntly, being nice is killing me and it’s killing you. As children of the God of Life, we don’t have time for that. So what do you say we quit being “nice” today, friend?