Saturday, December 8: It was J, my wise sister-in-law, who reminded me that saying no can be nice.
J follows my blog, and the “nice” project inspired her to be extra nice on Thursday. She shared: “In Target, a young man approached me and said he needed people to watch his two- minute video and give an opinion, so I agreed. I assumed he was a student and the video was a project or something. However, it was a religious video about how parts of the Bible refer to God the father, and other parts refer to God the mother. So the young man asked what I thought about God the mother, and invited me to go to Bible class. It was no big deal, but I was just trying to be nice. It was like 9:00 p.m., the end of the day, and I was just picking up a snack for my son’s school before I went home. Being nice can put you into an uncomfortable situation. I knew this guy and I were not going to see eye-to-eye, and I didn’t want to really debate religion at Target.”
So J did the nicest thing she could in that situation: She said “No thank you”.
Her story reminded me of something my aunt always said to me as I was growing up: saying no hurts only for a moment, but committing to something you don’t want to do is a long-term pain in the ass. I thought of the too-many times I’ve agreed to something just to spare the person’s feelings. It’s always messy: I make lame excuses to dodge the commitment, end up feeling cornered and resentful, and the other person’s feelings get hurt anyway.
Saying “Hell no, I’d rather gouge out my eyes with red-hot pokers than have lunch with you” is nasty. However, a simple “No thank you” is an honest admission that doesn’t leave the other person waiting for you to deliver on something you have no intention of doing. That is really not nice.
So thanks to J for reminding me that being honest is a way to be nice during this season of giving.