Musings from a liberally conserative, extroverted introvert, optimistic pessimist, idealistic realist

I’ve almost finished reading the book, No More Christian Nice Guy by Paul T. Coughlin. I too was once a Christian Nice Guy (CNG). I thought that I had to forego my own desires and longings to satisfy and appease others. My misguided view of Jesus led me to believe that I always had to turn the other check instead of standing up for myself. For the longest time, I thought Jesus was passive and peaceful, and for me, this meant avoiding conflict…even to my own detriment…which eventually led to enabling unhealthy behaviors to occur and ultimately led to divorce. Through my journey, I’ve learned that Jesus was not a pushover. He stood up for Himself, most notably to the Pharisees. I’ve always wanted to be like Jesus, but somewhere along the way, I got a misguided view of Him. I believe that I learned this in church, and after reading Coughlin’s book, I feel validated in that belief. I feel I learned this and other unhealthy expectations in church as well. (Note: I’m not claiming church is bad…I go every Sunday…okay…almost every Sunday. Church is essential, but we must be careful to not become legalistic as the Pharisees were in Jesus’ day.) Looking back over the years, I was becoming more of a Pharisee than I was becoming more like Christ. I don’t want to be a “son of hell” as Jesus referred to those whom the Pharisees converted. I want to be like Jesus. In that passage alone we see Jesus being assertive. ("Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are.” Matthew 23:15). He was frequently crossed by the Pharisees. Throughout the New Testament, we see Jesus being assertive, speaking truth, and standing up for Himself.

I’m trying to teach my son to be more assertive, for he is just like his father. I see him in me. He too wants to be like Jesus. One of the things I think we as parents try and pass on to our children is the lessons learned from our mistakes. The other day, I watched this little carbon copy of me react in the same manner in which I reacted to conflict for many years.

We were at the grocery store. He and his sister were told to choose a box of cereal for the week. Of course, he wanted one kind, and she wanted another. Eventually (after a hot debate over cold cereal), they compromised and selected a variety pack. But, on the very next isle, he wanted to buy Mint Oreo cookies…his sister did not. Without hesitation, my son turned and stormed around the corner of the isle and returned moments later with a bag of [regular] Oreo cookies and tossed them into the basket. I asked him why he reacted in that way. He stated that his sister didn’t want that kind and he had to give in to what she wanted. I realized he was doing what he had seen his father do for years. At that instant, I realized I had a teachable moment. This wasn’t just a bag of Oreos; it was a behavior pattern and a boundary issue. (See the various book titles on boundaries by Henry Cloud and John Townsend.) He’d learned that if his sister griped, complained, or nagged, he was expected to give in to her wants. I’m not faulting her. She was only doing what we all should do…state what we want. Now the manner in which we state such desires is also critical. Griping, complaining, and nagging are not acceptable means of expressing our desires. Thus, there lied another teachable moment, but this one was for her. (Somehow, Jesus teaching the Sermon on the Mount seems more picturesque than me teaching from the middle of the baked goods isle in the Wal Mart; but nonetheless, I suppose Jesus would have taught from the isles of the Wal Mart too had the apostle Sam Walton been alive in Jesus’ day.) I told my son that if he wanted Mint Oreo cookies, he could have them and that he didn’t have to always give in to his sister. I used that moment to tell him that it was okay to be assertive and say what HE wanted. He looked at me, and turned to retrieve the Mint Oreos he craved.

I tucked him in bed that night, and told him that it is okay to stand up for his wants and desires. I told him he didn’t have to be the one to give in every time. I told him the story of Jesus and the Pharisees; and as I kissed him goodnight, I told him that Jesus would have probably picked Mint Oreo cookies too.


Comments
on Mar 03, 2008

Hmm, this is weird.  You're a Christian and you make sense...I...I agree with you.  Thank God for "bad" Christians, eh?

~Zoo

on Mar 11, 2008

Even a blind nut finds a squirrel every now and then! (or something like that)

Thanks...I take this as a compliment...I'm just doing the best I know how.

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