If you know me or have read even a few of my rants, you might be justified in calling me a boat-rocker. One who speaks up, goes against the tide, and says, “Hey people, the Emperor isn’t wearing any clothes!”
To be honest, I’ve heard more than once in my life, “Why can’t you just let it be?” “Stop being a bulldozer!”
Looking back over the past few decades, I believe I have been a vigilante for justice, champion of the underdog, a sometimes unsolicited protector, and a buzz-kill-whistle-blower.
I haven’t always won popularity contests pointing out things— (“Hey caregivers, your dependent (senior citizen) really needs some new teeth!” “Hey, hip radio station, it’s not OK for your DJ to encourage 15-year-old listeners to get drunk on a Saturday night!”). I’ve spoken up at church meetings and in town government as a Selectman and taxpayer. I’ve campaigned against verbally abusive and sexist kid coaches and challenged community “do-gooders” when they soft-soaped school drug-use survey results. The list goes on and on.
Sometimes I saw immediate change— the elderly lady got new teeth before she passed away! The FM station brought their radio show to the high school in effort to make nice. Sometimes it seemed fruitless to stand up, though. We got the crappy coach canned, but he was rehired almost immediately at a different high school.
Wouldn’t it just have been easier to look the other way? Just go with the flow?
Believe it or not—I haven’t always sounded off. I’ve done my share of plastering on fake smiles, holding my breath, stuffing it all down. Suppressing too much (especially anger) has led me to have to deal with mid-life anxiety and low-grade depression. When I’ve failed to speak up and felt I should, I felt like I had an itch I couldn’t scratch.
I have evolved enough to know by now at 48 that it is not up to me to save the world. To help me discern, I’ve begun wearing The Serenity Prayer etched on a bracelet. I truly need “the wisdom to know the difference” of what I can or cannot change so I can go through the rest of my passion-prone life without bulldozing, bungling, or burning out.
The book No More Christian Nice Girl:When Just Being Nice–Instead of Good–Hurts You, Your Family, and Your Friends by Paul Coughlin and Jennifer Degler, Ph.D. (Bethany House Publishers) has been another great tool to help me figure things out. I learned why it isn’t healthy or even Christian to be “a nice girl”, faking, stuffing, seething. I am relieved that I haven’t necessarily gone against God by speaking up or calling something or someone out when someone was being neglected, hurt or mislead. I will concede that there were times when I came on too strong—even for a good cause.
NMCNG reminded me that I need to be more like the complete (360 degree) Jesus. While He lead by example of a life of love of God and neighbor, he decidedly had a firm side. He wasn’t always the smiley, bearded, hippy-crunchy shepherd featured on the felt board in Sunday School. The authors say, “a narrow focus on the sweet side of Jesus gives women the idea that God wants Christians to behave sweetly in all situations. Here’s the problem: Jesus says in Matthew 5:13, “You are the salt of the earth,” not the sugar of the earth.”
We are called to be stronger.
Jesus got pretty strong sometimes. He challenged those in authority and turned over the tables in the temple (Matthew 21:12). Coughlin and Degler reveal several more passages, almost twenty percent of the four Gospels showing where Jesus wasn’t always “nice and gentle, but assertive and firm when necessary.”
My kind of Jesus!
Admittedly, I have a LONG WAY TO GO in being more Christ-like, but I can strive to be a Woman of God—because “…God prefers his women to do more than passively sit on their hands while evil triumphs.” (Page 82). I can be firm out of love, instead of saccharine-sweet and smoldering inside.
Coughlin and Degler explained, “Our goal with this book is not to create Christian Mean Girls who bulldoze people…Christian women need to find a balance between passivity and aggressiveness. This starts with finding a backbone so that they can be redemptive forces for good in a world that too often strips people of their dignity and worth.”
I encourage you to read this book to get over being a “Christian Nice Girl.” (If you are a guy, you can pick up, “No More Christian Nice Guy: When Being Nice–Instead of Good–Hurts Men, Women and Children” by Paul Coughlin.)
You’ll find as described:
“When passivity and false niceness don’t bring the abundant life Jesus promised, some Christian women try even harder to hide behind a fragile façade of pleasant perfection. Paul Coughlin and Jennifer Degler give women the empowering message that they have options far beyond simply acting nice or being mean–if they will emulate the real Jesus Christ and face their fears of conflict, rejection, and criticism. Brimming with enlightening information, thought-provoking questionnaires, real-life stories, and biblically based teaching from both the male author of the pioneering No More Christian Nice Guy and a female clinical psychologist, this book will motivate women to allow God to transform them into authentic, powerful women of loving faith.”
Like me, you will learn how to navigate successfully and not be a doormat in relationships with family and friends, boyfriends, your spouse. You’ll see how to be firm in the workplace. The book even talks about knowing when it is time to walk away from abusive relationships. It’s definitely a cool resource for a Bible study group. Anyone interested? I will serve chocolate covered pretzels representing how we’re to be both salty and sweet.