Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Death of a Coward

I'm scared of a lot of things - heights, losing loved ones, large bugs/spiders - and while I wouldn't necessarily call it a "fear," I also have a strange aversion to raw meat.

But I'm not a coward.

I will draw the distinction for you... EVERYONE is afraid... scared... fearful. No matter how strong your faith is, the human side of all of us is terrified of something. Usually more than one thing. And usually something that we have to face every day. Cowards are the people who allow other people to be hurt because of their fears.

You might be thinking of people who are faced with a split second decision of whether to take a bullet for someone else and decide not to, but the decision of whether to be a coward or not is much less dramatic and much more widespread.

My last boss was a great example of a coward. I don't really feel bad saying that because I have significant amounts of evidence that was the case. He would consistently find someone to blame for anything that might be perceived as negative on his behalf. In fact, we had a joke about not missing meetings, because you would most certainly be blamed for something in your absence. The fact was, he was scared of being inadequate. He was a coward because he let him fear allow him to blame and manipulate others.

Sometimes being a coward means NOT taking action. Not standing up for someone who is being blamed or made fun of or ridiculed. And how do we justify this? "Oh, it's one of those political things..." You hear it in churches, workplaces, even families. Whenever someone doesn't want to do what should be done it's "politics." This literally drives me crazy. I refuse to be a part of the political game, which anyone who knows me can tell you (and a few people who don't know me, but once witnessed me telling a Senior Vice President of our company that he needed to "get out of my face" when he tried to intimidate me). I would contend that "politics" is a code for "we're keeping the status quo, for our own benefit." And if rising in the ranks and not rocking the boat are your objective, by all means, fall into the "politics" of your organization. But I can tell you that when I left my last job, the CEO requested to meet with me, wanted MY feedback on the organization, to thank me for my work and find out if there was a way I would stay.

Everyone is scared of commitment. Cowards cheat.
Everyone is scared to be a parent. Cowards leave.
Everyone is scared of losing their job. Cowards place blame.

Embrace your fears, give them to God, and let your coward die.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Too Nice.

A couple weeks before Nate and I started dating, I was on the phone with him while I was at a friend's house. She motioned for my attention. I covered the mouthpiece. She asked me, "Do you like him?!"

"Who?" I said. "Nate?! No! He's too nice!"

I later found out my phone covering skills were subpar, and that Nate heard all of that conversation, which he still likes to remind me of occasionally to this day.

Nate being "too nice" has been an issue in our relationship more times than I can count. When I'm trying to get out the door at Starbucks and he's trying to set up a time to give the barista our copy of the movie "Role Models" because "you just gotta see it, man!" When he got totally ripped off buying his car, because he believes the best in people. One of my favorite "too nice" moments was when a young man stopped us outside Walmart and asked if we'd contribute to his sports team. He had a bucket with some change and few dollar bills, and a generic looking poster with some clipart on it. Nate said, "Oh man... I only have a $10..." He glanced at it for a minute and handed it to the young man. "Thanks man!" the guy said, walking in the store. Nate took a few more steps toward our car, pondering the odd scenario. He looked at me and said, "That guy's going to buy crack with my money, isn't he?"

"Almost definitely," I responded.

But what I love about Nate is that he shrugged, and then chuckled.

In more serious times, I've angrily told him "WHY are you still helping those people? WHY do you think that this time will be anything different, when they've let you down so many times in the past?"

Nate looked at me when I said that, and said simply, "It's okay that I get let down... I will keep trying and keep helping and if that also means I keep getting let down... that's fine. Because maybe, one these times, I won't get let down."

I was probably right when I said that Nate was "too nice," but I hope everyone someday has someone "too nice" on their side. Christmas is a great time to go above and beyond... forgive and forget... and be "too nice" to someone who doesn't deserve it. I've been blessed to know and love many "too nice" people, who inspire me every day to be a little bit nicer.  :-) I'd challenge you this holiday season - and moving forward - to allow yourself to risk your own personal disappointment or sadness, in order to be "too nice" to someone who you usually aren't. Maybe you'll be let down... but maybe you won't.