Some people make cutting remarks,
But the words of the wise bring healing.
Proverbs 12v18 NLT
…an encouraging word cheers a person up.
Proverbs 12 v25 NLT
I followed a car in bumper-to-bumper traffic, inching forward while lanes merged on a too-busy afternoon. A sticker on the back seemed to echo words to me over and over as I pondered how to respond to someone whose unkind words had cut deep: Believe in nice!
At first it seemed like one of those ridiculous slogans that sound sweet but say nothing. Believe in nice?! Like believing in Santa Clause or the Tooth Fairy or a Fairy God-mother whose magic wand works miracles.
I couldn’t get those words out of my mind. Over and over, to the rhythm of the slow going road, like a mantra I heard them:
Believe in nice. Believe in nice. Believe in nice.
My mind wandered from my worry about how to respond to this someone who seemed so antagonistic, to these believe-in-nice words that made no sense.
Lord, is this You?
Believe, Di, believe in the power of nice.
My breath caught. I know what the word believe means. I know that in God’s Word, to believe in God means to entrust oneself to God.
As in completely, entirely.
As in being willing to so entrust myself to Him that I do the hard thing, the impossible thing, the thing I don’t want to do but must if I’m to please Him and stay close to Him. He was telling me…
To believe that His power is in the nice.
And then a verse we’d memorized over and over again as a family joined the believe-in-nice mantra:
Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
but only what is helpful for building people up
according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen.
Ephesians 4:29 NIV
Okay, Lord. I believe, I entrust myself to You. Instead of responding with all the venom that keeps coming to my still-to-be-completely, really redeemed mind, I will be nice.
I believe in the power You bring when I choose nice.
I looked to my left, still stuck in traffic, I stare into a mini-van driven by a tired looking mama. Kids in the back, obviously harassing each other. Arms flailing, mouths spewing, faces skewed into ugliness by the hurt and anger and not-niceness of their siblings— and their momentarily not-nice selves.
Believe in nice.
The look on that mama’s face about broke my heart. She didn’t know what to do with her herd of rampaging buffalo in the back. So she did what she’d been taught: nothing. Just let them work it out themselves. Don’t interfere.
When that didn’t work (okay, I was staring, but what else is there to do during a stalled rush hour?) Mama whipped around, opened her mouth wide and… saw me staring.
I smiled sympathetically. She smiled back. A moment of knowing.
I wanted to get out of my car and climb into hers and tell her what I know now, now that my kids are grown and my car is empty of arguers:
I wanted to tell her… that there is power in being nice.
That encouraging words give courage to kids whose feelings are hurt and tempers are short. That her own niceness to both the wounded and the wound-er can bring hope and healing.
I wanted to tell her it’s her job to enforce niceness.
That if she doesn’t the meanest one will win. The quiet child will sink, letting the words wreak havoc. The not-nice one will keep being not-nice because anger is an incredibly effective way to control people.
I wanted to tell her to soften her words.
To respond to the car full of chaos with soothing gentleness. That if she doesn’t, she’ll regret it at the end of the day, feeling as ugly as she sounds.
I wanted to tell her about the tremendous power of nice.
That wise words are like medicine, that gentleness turns away anger. That she has the power, for just a few years, to teach her children that truth and nice go hand-in-hand.
I wanted to tell her that entrusting yourself to God means choosing to be nice no matter what.
Even in traffic. Even on hard, hot days with not-nice kids spewing not-niceness on each other.
I wanted to tell that mama that He knows how hard it is to be nice.
That He managed, even on the Cross, with blood running down in sticky rivulets, with a crowd of jeering mockers, with their spittle on his face— even then to be kind, forgiving…
To believe in nice.
The traffic cleared. We passed a wreck on the side of the road. Glass shattered, the bumper crunched, a car seat in the back. People had been hurt.
And I prayed…
… for the child in the wrecked car who may have been hurt.
… for the children in that angry mini-van who were hurting each other—and themselves.
… for the mamas in both cars, that they would believe in the power of God to be nice, no matter what.
… for myself to believe in the power God gives to be nice when all I feel is mean.
From a heart still struggling to believe in the power of nice,
P.S. And you?
Can you tell us how you teach your children the power of nice?
Can you tell us what has helped you to believe in the power of nice?