Just Be Nice
The bumper sticker read, “Just Be Nice.” I chuckled to myself when I read it. The night before, I had just read Chapter 7, “The eye-opener about Our True Selves,” in Yes, I Am.
I’ll go into that later. I have spent most of my adult life “trying to be nice” and/or trying to be whatever I thought would be a more acceptable version of “me.” The ceiling to floor bookcase in my home would tell the story. It is filled with self-help books on every subject from anger management, to how to be a good mom, to how to be a better boss, to eating clean. You name it. After reading the subject matter, I would find myself worse for a period of time instead of better. I would say, “if I could just fix this (fill in the blank) then I will be better.” This kept me in a state of reaching for another book.
The “nice” thing was one of the biggest challenges. My particular personality is more direct and to the point. This has kept me in trouble in the past. Most folks don’t really appreciate being told what to do or some form of being corrected (and I am no exception). I would claim that it was under the guise of wanting to help others, but most of the time it came off as mean-spirited. If this rings true and you have struggled, this is NOT a self-help article. Sorry.
Back to Chapter 11 in Yes, I Am. The first paragraph gets right to the meat of it: “restoration of us humans to our true being” and “that the whole human family has always had its being in God.” Norman went on to say that even though this is the truth about us, we are still blinded and need to be waked up. It starts with our knowing that we want to be like our Creator. Love others and “Be Nice’…right? Or as your parent or grandparent used to say, “Behave.” Even the Church sets us up by creating the to-do list in order to be right. In my case, I would do the “right thing” for a little while, then fail and pick up another new “right thing” until that failed. It went on and on. Even with all the failures, I knew I had to keep trying because it was the right thing to do. It was the only way I knew to make things right with God. Thankfully, this eventually took me to a place of despair. But first, a little more about Chapter 11.
In the form of the Law, God created the ultimate life checklist. God said, through Moses to the children of Israel, that they would be His special people if they would obey His voice and keep His covenant. Who couldn’t do that? Just 10 little commandments. They seemed reasonable, and any respectable person should be able to obey. Right?
The beauty and power of the Law is to help the blind to see. Self-reliance is exposed as Satan’s nature by them. Satan’s lie: It is “just us” that has to obey. One of my favorite Norman sayings is “Self can’t conquer self.” The law was so important to reveal to them (and us) that we can’t keep it and we were not supposed to.
In a world focused on success and making it a standard for self-worth, “I’m glad I’m a failure” is an uncommon declaration. The glorious news is that I was supposed to fail, and that self-effort is Satan’s effort masked. It’s all self-love and seeking our own ends at the bottom. So, all my effort to be right and keep the law lead me to God’s grace. I am certain that if I had not failed, I would still keep trying. This would have kept me in bondage and allowed Satan to keep me blind.
If you are still trying to keep the law or live by a bumper sticker, there is hope for you. Read the rest of Yes, I Am for the rest of the answer!