I grew up in the South, so I learned early that good Christian girls (and women) were expected to always be “nice.” This fundamental edict is ingrained in me at a very deep level, and I measure myself against it constantly.
Today was one of those days that has left me really frustrated with myself. I like to think of myself as a nice person, but sometimes I have days that force me realize that I’m really not the person I want to believe myself to be.
I tend to be too judgmental, too controlling, too critical. I am often unkind, stingy, and impatient. I talk much more than I should, and I so often say things that I later regret (sometimes no sooner than the words are out of my mouth).
I make commitments time and again to listen better, to talk less, to be kinder and more generous and more tolerant. But if there is any change, it so often seems to be at a glacial pace.
Our culture tends to idolize the macho, the tough, the strong, those that never share or display their wounded hearts. We instinctively hide our vulnerable parts in order to keep those tender and wounded places safe.
This is sometimes a necessity because there are many times and places where it would not be safe to let our vulnerability show. But when we find those moments of safety where we can risk letting down our guards and letting others in, our vulnerability often becomes a magnet to others who discover in us the freedom to expose their own vulnerability. Giving each other glimpses behind the masks that we so often wear allows us to see a bit of the true beauty that each human being holds.
I have been incredibly fortunate in where I have landed in the latest rendition of my work life. I work with a group of people that makes the work day a great deal of fun. My co-workers are people who I admire and consider as friends, and I still can’t get over my good fortune at having arrived where I am.
Having so often worked in situations where this was not the case, I find myself constantly watching the group dynamics and the individual interactions to try to discover the secret of what makes this group so different so I can do what I can to make sure the goodness lasts. I think there are several reasons why this group works so well—some that may be unique to this group, some that aren’t.