What a simple word.
It's the centerpiece of my most famous Anne-ism... something I tell my patients all the time when they thank me for helping them.
"It's easy to be nice to nice people."
They think about it for a moment, then laugh when they realize that I have just paid them a compliment.
Our message this morning in church was about Jesus' lesson to love one another. Although I am not obtrusively Christian, I try to be a good person and exhibit my Christianity by example. (in fact, I'm usually suspicious of folks who flaunt their spirituality.) This is a product of growing up next to some of the most self-righteous neighbors you could ever meet, and learning repeatedly how truly un-Christian these folks were.... the stories I could tell!
Yet this brings up the other point... I struggle daily to not hate. Don't you? How difficult is it to not be angry with that guy who cut you off on the road... the customer service rep who clearly does not care about what you need... people who have hurt you in the past.... people who live on the other side of the planet, have never met you, yet still hate you.
How can I learn to forgive these people?
I especially struggled after 9/11. I can forgive the people who actually carried out the act. Why? Because in my mind, they were simply carrying out the orders of a clearly delusional, evil person. They themselves were victims, too. It is more difficult to forgive their leader. I'll leave that challenge for another day.
A more common struggle for me is when I have worked an entire day, my kids are driving me crazy, and I have to run an errand.... and the person I need to help me clearly does not want to do their job. Then I finally lose my patience. I become a mean person! How difficult it must be for them to be nice to me?! Does this happen to anyone else? LOL!!!
A clear lesson in forgiveness can be learned by the Amish who were so deeply wounded by the senseless murder of 5 of their daughters. Remember those school children who were held hostage? In the middle of perhaps the most peaceful place in this country, a most violent, un-peaceful act was committed. Yet the Amish families actually attended the murderer's funeral, offering sincere condolences to the widow and his children. They are now forming a trust fund for his children. I heard this story on NPR the other day, and it had me in tears.
I seriously doubt that if I found myself in the same situation that I could offer that kind of forgiveness.
So, while it is easy to be nice to nice people, it is, obviously, extremely difficult to be nice to mean people. I hope I can learn to exude niceness rather than impatience at the end of the day!