I’m Done Being Nice

Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.
― Henry James

I’ve always been a nice person. By always, of course, I mean overall, not every single moment. But generally speaking, I think even people who don’t like me much probably would describe me as nice. There are many fine behaviors that I lack, but nice I can do.

And therein lies the problem. Nice I can do and have done and in-spite of all my niceness, I’ve remained fundamentally unchanged at my core.

I gradually became aware of the cracks that can’t be papered-over with niceness. My feelings could be easily hurt. I was quick to take offense. But the real tell was that I was critical of other people’s choices when they differed from my own in everything from parenting to politics. I made  character and motive assessments (i.e. He/She is so: raciest, arrogant, judgmental, moody, harsh, deceitful, critical, greedy, selfish, needy, negative etc… )

Get the irony, here? How arrogantly critical and judgmental of me to feel so free to evaluate others. While I kept those thoughts largely to myself, there they were, fermenting and staining my heart.

I’m done being nice. Instead, I want to be kind.

Niceness is a presentation. Kindness is a condition. I want a heart conditioned by grace to be kind. I can be nice in action without being kind-hearted. I can act warm when my thoughts are cold. Kindness requires a depth plumbed by God and infused with His grace.

Nice is pleasant, polite, agreeable, satisfactory. Niceness is about what I do.

Kind is having a sympathetic or helpful nature; having a forbearing (patient) nature; affectionate; loving; gentle. Kindness is about what I am, about what I hope to become.

Being nice wins favor, but being nice is transitory. Niceness easily evaporates in the light of unmet expectations. But out of a kind heart comes compassion and forgiveness and the generous act of thinking of others.

Kindness is spiritual practice. It’s a deep current that runs beneath the surface, supplying the grace to respond to both adversity and adversary with a gentleness that doesn’t come naturally. Grace is required and that grace is abundantly supplied to all Seekers.

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:32

Author: Debbie

A former counselor and public speaker, I'm grateful for many, many things - God's grace most of all!

32 thoughts on “I’m Done Being Nice”

  1. Hey Debbie…miss you my friend. Are you ok? Miss seeing you and your words of wisdom. God bless you sweet sister wherever you are–hope you see this. 🙂 ❤

    1. Hello dear Greg!
      As it happens, I was struggling with a post just when your kind words plopped into my box! I couldn’t seem to quite get it right but after your encouragement, I published it anyway.
      Thank you for your care and concern. I haven’t very limited Internet access right now so I haven’t been writing. Hope to pick the pace up a bit soon!
      You’re such a dear heart. 😀

  2. I have missed you! So glad you decided to take another run at this, but I understand exactly what you mean. When the granddaughter began to spend her days with us, I was relieved to have an excuse to stop blogging for a while. I even contemplated closing everything internet down and just concentrate on the nursery we had going here.

    It got to be too much trying to juggle babysitting, housework and writing and I was left feeling irritated and annoyed with the lack of writing time. I began to let my dissatisfaction come through in my posts, they seemed to me to be too judgmental and angry – not sure if they came across that way to readers, but I could feel my inward anger going through my fingers into the words I was writing. After a while I felt like I was running dry and there were no more words.

    But recently I have had this need to get back to the empty pages and WRITE! Now I just have to find the time to work around the granddaughter and her ever moving feet and hands, and pray for peace during the process.

    And while I am at it, I think I will join you in the quest for more kindness. I seem to find myself getting into some pretty snarky thoughts lately about some people in my life and then the Lord has to remind me that this needs to change. Can’t expect them to change so God has to continue to work on me and my responses.

    Thanks for your words and insight. Blessings for your day.

    1. Dear Dru –
      How wonderful to see you up there smiling at me!
      My Internet remains sketchy but I hope to head over your way soon to see what God has been putting on your heart.
      I’m practicing the mental metaphor of bleeding kindness (as a response to a cut – even small ones, as small as a paper cut).
      It’s God’s work of grace in progress…:D

  3. thank you for your words of wisdom….relate so much! Used to use the excuse I was “just in the habit” because I diagnose in my profession. Truth without love is cruelty. I’m going to add kindness to that.

  4. Thanks Debbie! I don’t even know you, but I have missed you! Please don’t give up on blogging! Your words are always full of grace and truth. They make me think and feel.

    God has been teaching me about the fruit of the Spirit this year…mainly that I can’t produce any of it. All of it is a product of his grace. My only part is to abide in Him, so He can produce it in me. When I receive it freely, I can give it freely. I can’t will myself to be kind (or joyful, or peaceful or loving). These are gifts that I receive from God freely and the more I receive, the more I can give. The more of my anxiety, self condemnation, fear, etc. that I lay down at His feet, the more capacity I have to receive His gifts.

    Thanks once again for encouraging me to think and feel!


    1. Carol –
      Gosh, thanks so much for your warm words.
      Absolutely – I agree – we can’t ‘will’ ourselves to be kind.
      “Every good and perfect gift, comes from God above.”
      Even the desire to change is a gift of grace.
      Thank you for adding that important insight!

    1. Hello Lori!
      It’s good to see you as well!
      I have a torn meniscus and a cracked tailbone but I am really quite well (fully engulfed in acceptance!)! 😀

  5. Kindness always works. I remember an old gentleman told me “When in doubt, do the kind thing”. The scripture at the end is perfect. Love your post.


  6. Awww…Deb…you’ve out done yourself here…..you are absolutely right and bless you for bringing it up. It’s not too late to make a resolution for 2014 (and the rest of my days), is it? It’s a treat to hear from you again.

  7. I will do my best, Debbie. I wish I had the best soul: A Billy Joel Soul. 🙂

    I have the same poopie thoughts re: judgments, while all the while thinking I’m kind; well Nice. I’m totally experiencing that with my BF’s children living in our space. I have become bitter and bicker-y; and it’s tainting everything.

    Time to look inward and solve the Soul Truth. xo MEL

    1. deal mel –
      You, my friend, have such a willing heart.
      That, more than any plan or effort, makes change possible.

      Grace can be crowded out sometimes, but it also can fill the entire space when you’re open to a litlle remodeling. 😀

      Or to quote your BJ:
      “Well, we all have a face that we hide away forever
      And we take them out and show ourselves when everyone has gone.
      Some are satin, some are steel,
      Some are silk and some are leather.
      They’re the faces of a stranger,
      But we’d love to try them on.”

      Possibly our challenge is to get the face to match the heart and the heart to be one we would like to show on our face?
      Grace and peace to you as you adjust to this altered path.

    1. Hello dear Judi!
      I like this quote from Charlie Chaplin:
      “We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery, we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness.”
      Thank you for continuing on this journey with me, my friend!

  8. WOW….this is one of your best. I see me in this unfortunately. I need a huge dose of kindness…I will take 3 and promise NOT to call you in the morning! 🙂

    Would you mind if I reprinted this in full on my new site http://theolivebranchreport.com ? And I would will reblog it in ICB which you know!

    God bless you Debbie…have missed you!

    1. Greg –
      You are steadfastly my encouraging friend!
      So you have a new blog?! Wonderful!
      I’m always honored anytime you wish to share something you read here.
      I had mostly given up on blogging – lack of a reliable internet and wondering if I wasn’t becoming rather redundant. I decided to take one more run at it.
      Thank you, Greg. I laughed right out loud at your prescription for 3 doses!

      1. Well I sure am glad you are back!!! Don’t leave us…your wisdom and insight is invaluable. Don’t let the enemy speak into your heart about being redundant. Your words bring light, hope, encouragement, and love to many who need them. We need you my friend and sister.

        God bless you
        Love in Christ

      2. Greg – you make me smile. ❤
        I guess when I named my blog Two Minutes of Grace I kind of predetermined the redundancy, didn't I?
        I'll just have to continue to search for new ways to say the same things.:D

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