Thanks to an amazing Employee Assistance Program through the Episcopal Church Medical Trust I've started meeting with a therapist. I remember some professor in seminary telling us, "everyone should see a therapist, especially priests." Seems like good advice for those of us who carry the weight of other's secrets, pain, sadness as well as their joys, passions, on convictions.
Our first session was last week, but one line is still ringing true in my head as I study the Acts lesson for this Sunday. She said, "When I turned forty, I realized that I was done being nice. I'll be polite and kind, but not nice."
Yesterday during our lectionary group, Keith brought up the fact that in order to follow in the footsteps of Paul and Silas and be disturbers, we have to overcome a lot of trained behavior. "Don't cause any trouble." or "Be nice." are things we all heard a million times during our formative years. Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, teachers, pastors, you name it, just about every adult figure in my life told me, at one time or another, that I was supposed to a) be nice or b) not cause any trouble.
But the my homiletics professor told me to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. I can to the former, but the latter, I am not equipped. I have 30 years of "being nice" to sort through. I have a child to support. I have a thousand reasons why I shouldn't rock the boat, and I'm sure you do too.
But then the earthquake happens. Paul and Silas, accused disturbers, are in prison singing hymns and saying prayers, and the very foundations of the prison are shaken. God has a habit of shaking foundations; both literally, like the prison in Philippi and literally, like "be nice." He shakes these foundations and looses our chains so that we might be set free to do his work, which sometimes (maybe even more often than not) means acting as the pea in the mattress.
Is God shaking your foundations? Is he calling you to a new way of living? A new way of interacting? A new way of disturbing?
Quit being nice. Quit trying NOT to cause trouble. Be respectful. Be caring. But always be a voice for God.