The other day someone said something about me being “so nice”. I’ve heard it time and time again throughout my life. It has been the one quality when I am riddled with shame and guilt that I fall back on and think to myself well, at least I’m still nice. So, in other words, my identity has centered on me being Ms. Nice. Somehow, I’ve learned over the years that “niceness” equates to “godliness”.
Ms. Nice doesn’t rock the boat, start fights, set boundaries, and almost always lets the other person have the last word. Ms. Nice gets involved in codependent relationships where the stronger, more “put-together” person is always in charge. Ms. Nice doesn’t speak up when the workload gets too heavy. She gets involved in as many “churchy” good things as possible. Ms. Nice is known to buy her way into peoples’ hearts, either with material gifts (she can’t afford) or creative talents. Ms. Nice has mastered the art of the syrupy, smiley “Sure, I can do it. Not a problem.” Ms. Nice has been known to keep quiet when the “put-togethers” bully her daughter into submission…because who wants to make waves? She knows the intricacies of displaying the “everything-is-awesome” smile. She majors in over-showering people with compliments. The list goes on and on and on…the nauseating list.
The truth: Ms. Nice is not really nice.
No, I let people terrify me too much…and I can really be quite mean. In order to perpetuate my identity as being the “nicest” person in the bunch, I have really hurt people…the people I love the most. My niceness has gotten me, and my daughter, into one too many chaotic, troubling situations.
The exhaustion that I experienced as a result of all of my years of “niceness” aka “people-pleasing” aka “approval addiction” catapulted me into a very dark hole where despair entered in and truth of who the “me” beneath the mask is became apparent. The sins of a lifetime flooded in like lava into the crevices of the dark pit. I couldn’t breathe. The scenes of all the broken paths that my wearing of that mask led me down became very vivid. I knew/know I deserve death for all the years I had been playing religious masquerade games with my life and the lives of the ones I love.
But God (one of my favorite things to say) never left me alone in that pit and after the diagnosis He reminded me of my true identity. An identity grounded in what Jesus has done for me, not in my niceness, strength (or lack thereof), or put-togetherness (not).
This morning I read this…
Galatians 3:2-4 The Message (MSG) Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you? Are you going to continue this craziness? For only crazy people would think they could complete by their own efforts what was begun by God. If you weren’t smart enough or strong enough to begin it, how do you suppose you could perfect it? Did you go through this whole painful learning process for nothing? It is not yet a total loss, but it certainly will be if you keep this up!
I asked myself those questions, and the truth is that I have gotten caught up in the craziness again. On my lunch hour today I ran an errand for my little brother who just recently moved to Florida. It was my nice deed for the day. As I was sitting in my car at a stop light, I was already patting myself on the back (in my mind…that would be hard to do while driving). I’m glad I was able to help out, but I know my motivations were probably 90% this…please see me as your nice sister who will go to any length to help her little brother out.
So, should I bully myself into submission and vow to not go back to being Ms. Nice? No, that won’t work. I can most definitely set some boundaries and be more aware of when I am falling back into people-pleasing behavior…and that is what I will try to do. What would serve me best, though, is to remember my true identity – a beloved daughter of the King, covered by the blood of Jesus. The need to please vanishes in the light of the gospel. I am already accepted and unconditionally loved by my heavenly Father because I have an “older brother who is not ashamed of me.” Elyse Fitzpatrick
My daughter introduced me to this song. It speaks to the culture we live in where people feel the need to wear masks and hide their struggles and weaknesses to be accepted. The video is a little disturbing, so I have included another version below if dolls freak you out.
Melanie Martinez – Dollhouse (Official Music Video): https://youtu.be/HcVv9R1ZR84
Nightcore – Dollhouse (Male Version).: https://youtu.be/3WIOHRjgzuU