I used to be nicer. I worried a lot about peoples feelings and tiptoed around them. When people needed me because of an emotional crisis I was right there, encouraging them like a cheerleader. I would hand out uplifting words like emotional band-aids. Everyone thought I was very nice. But worrying so much about peoples feelings has taken its toll on me.
There is a passage in the Bible that says, “A city without walls will soon be overrun.” God brings that one to my memory often. I used to think He was reminding me to say no to a chocolate chip cookies, but I now believe He’s been trying to teach me about boundaries.
As a mental health professional, I teach people how to have healthy boundaries. As a Christian, I struggle to find the balance between healthy boundaries and my desire to be thought of as nice. Funny thing is, I don’t know if “nice” is an adjective I would use to describe Jesus. Loving, for sure, but nice? Maybe we should explore the Word a little to find out.
Even a cursory glance at the Gospels will show that while Jesus was compassionate, He did not hesitate to offend people. He called the Pharisees “broods of vipers” and “whitewashed tombs full of dead men’s bones.” He wasn’t trying to be rude, but He did love them enough to call them out on their hypocrisy.
He once told a blind man to go wash his eyes in the river. If you are blind, how do you find the river? But the guy made it down there, and when he washed his eyes out, he could see! He told one woman who was asking for a miracle while pretending to be an Israelite that He couldn’t give “the children’s bread to the dogs.” She didn’t take it personally, which impressed Him so much He said she had great faith and gave her what she came for. I’m sure she left calling Him Lord, but I doubt she called Him “nice.”
When His family came to see Him, He left them standing outside and said His real family was anyone who did the will of God. Some of His best friends were Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, but He intentionally let Lazarus die so He could show God’s power to raise Him from the dead. Amazing miracle, but pretty traumatic for His friends. He knew His primary mission was to be their Savior, and he let nothing, not even their feelings, get in the way of that mission. He also knew sometimes we need to be saved from our emotions.
One of the first things I discovered as a believer is that God does not prop up my feelings because my feelings are usually not telling me the truth. He is also impossible to manipulate. As a former addict who lived by feelings and manipulation, I needed that. No, God hasn’t catered to my feelings. He’s transformed me with truth, and that’s how Jesus operated.
Here is what I see in the life of Jesus. He was kind. Kind enough to tell people the truth, and kind enough to Himself to self-care. He did that each time He went off by Himself to spend time with the Father. Jesus had perfect boundaries. I want to be like Jesus.
I’m turning in my cheerleader outfit and turning off my cell phone. I plan to be less available to the masses and more intentional with myself, my family, and whoever God puts in my path at the moment. I want to be bold enough to speak to their heart and not to their feelings. I don’t want to be nice, I want to be kind.