June 12, 2012

On Being Nice

I saw her at the pool yesterday.  I smiled.  She smiled.  I said hello.  She said hello.  I asked her how she was.  She said she was fine and asked me how I was.  I said I was doing well.  And that was it.  The conversation didn't go any further.  I don't really know her all that well and it even took me a minute to remember her name, but normally I would have asked more questions, tried to create more conversation and been more friendly.  Why wasn't I more engaging?  Why didn't I smile more and offer more?  Why wasn't I sweeter, kinder, warmer and nicer?

I've never found her to be a warm person, open to friendship.  I've passed her in the aisles at the grocery store and turned to say hello, only to  have her quickly look the other way as if she didn't see me.  She seems to wear a sign that says, "Stay back.  I don't want to know you."  I can't see her sign, it's invisible of course, but I know it's there and that's partly why I didn't engage her more at the pool.  Why would I pursue someone who is so very guarded and unfriendly?  Why would I put my heart out there only for it to be trampled on and dismissed?

There's another reason though why I didn't reach out to her more and it wasn't because I was guarding my heart or afraid of her rejection and dismissal, it's because Jesus is setting me free from having to be sweet and friendly and nice.  All the time.  Constantly.  Every waking moment.  Though there is a genuine warmth and love about me,  I am very aware that I have often used those gifts for the wrong reasons throughout my life.  They have helped me get my needs met apart from Christ... the need to be loved and the need for people to be happy with me, to like me.  I have been the classic people pleaser.

But I don't need to use those gifts for the wrong reasons any more.  I know who I am.  I know my worth.  I know that every need I have is met in Christ.  I don't need people to like me and be happy with me.  I don't need to be nice all the time to win their approval and acceptance.  Of course, I want those things, they are certainly welcome, but I don't need them.  I am free.  I am loved.  I am secure.

How wonderful it was to come home from the pool feeling strong and confident and free.  How good it was to just be and not need to be anything else.


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