So there was this guest speaker at our church on Sunday who basically said: "Stop being so NICE. Christians are just too NICE."
Now, that might seem a little crazy for a speaker at a church service to urge people to be less nice. But I could completely relate to what he was trying to communicate. That pretty much sums up one of the biggest problems in my life: too nice.
Now, before you go thinking I'm this totally arrogant jerk, hear me out.
My 'being nice' isn't actually nice at all. I might be being nice on the outside, but on the inside, it's all about ME. I'm not really thinking about the other person.
Being nice for me is a way to control other people's opinions of me. And the reason I want to control their opinion of me is because I want to be liked. And the reason I want to be like is because I want to feel satisfied. And so, I want people to approve of me. And I have gone through most of my life thinking, 'If I am nice to people, if I smile enough, I'll get what I need: to be liked, to be approved of, to be wanted.'
Well ,let me tell you something about THAT: first of all, it's CONTROLLING! I'm acting in a certain way in order to MAKE other people like me. It's like I'm trying to take away their own choice of what they think of me once they see me and know me. I want to MAKE them like me. I want them to have no choice but to like me because I'm so stinkin' NICE.
But the other thing is...when I act NICE, NICE, NICE all the time, I actually don't get what I'm longing for in the end anyways.
I've lived so long being NICE, that I barely even know who I even am anymore. I don't know how to let the real ME be seen. I don't know how to be known, because I'm so used to showing only what will be liked or approved of. When I only act nice to people, it's like I'm going through life reading a script. Saying what should be said. Smiling when I should smile. But when I live based on that script, it's like I'm not really and truly living and interacting. I'm not really letting myself be known. I'm just living on the surface, connecting on the surface. So when I look around and assess whether or not I've reached my goal of 'always being liked'...the answer is no. Because to be liked in a way that is satisfying, you must be known.
But there's more. There's an even deeper reason that niceness can't get me what I'm longing for. That strategy of being nice, so that I'll be liked, so that I'll be satisfied is just not a strategy that will work out for me...because, ACTUALLY,God Himself is OPPOSED to that strategy.
He knows that my satisfaction can only really be found in HIM, so when I've got all these other plans for how I'll be happy in life, and how I'm going to make every one in the world like me, so that I can be happy and satisfied, He just won't let those plans work out.
Other people's approval cannot tell me if I'm good enough or not. It can't settle me deep inside. It can't give me an identity. The crazy and somewhat abstract truth is that only my Creator can tell me who I am, and satisfy that need for approval and satisfaction deep inside of me.
So being NICE (and, again, I'm talking about being OVERLY nice, the in-your-face, controlling-for-a-purpose kind of NICE)...is not the answer.
And that's not even mentioning the reasons that guest speaker gave for why we shouldn't be so stinkin' nice! He was saying that when we're just nice, nice, nice all the time, we miss out on opportunities for the Jesus of the New Testament (the One who did unexpected and passionate things like: use a whip to clear out a temple, or condemn 'nice' religious people, or listen intently and then challenge a Samaratin woman's slightly dishonest answer) to BREAK IN to our scripted conversations and situations and bring real and refreshing LIFE into our everyday moments with other people.
So I think that's enough reasons for me to start to contemplate not being so nice every day. And so, while I DO hope you'll find that I'm kind, and that I'm full of the Holy Spirit, I really hope, that in the seasons to come, that you won't find me to be so controlling and so NICE.