Not That Kind of Nice Girl
The only way I even know how to think of these questions is to look at examples of women in Scripture. The examples aren't as widespread as men, but there are fiercely audacious women throughout the Bible who are courageous in the face of danger and subjugation. They kill with their kindness and rule with their obedience.
I think of Ruth and Naomi who both endured horrible heartache with a sense of fearlessness (Ruth 1). Or Queen Vashti in the book of Esther, who refused to go before the king to have her beauty paraded at his request (Esther 1: 9-12). These women aren't wholly different — in fact, they share a common thread. Their kindness is not meek; it is brave, perhaps because these women recognize that they only truly have to answer to one person, and that's God.
Other women in Scripture showcase the power of silence, the strength that sometimes comes with not saying anything. Take Moses' sister, Miriam, who silently hid him by the river at the request of her mother and stood by waiting to see what might happen (Ex. 2). Instead of publicly defying Pharaoh and cursing his name, she fiercely and calmly chose another option. Biting one's tongue and walking away can be valiant and daring. It can be as loud and bold as shouting to be heard.
In certain times and places, we as women must speak courageously in our own defense, in the defense of others or for the justice of those around us. When society confuses being unflinching with being mean, with lacking kindness and lacking tact, we can remember like Ruth and Queen Vashti that our world isn't the world we have to appease. Our responses won't always live up to the world's standards.
Because, at the end of the day, we live to God's standard. If someone makes an offensive sexual comment on the sidewalk, it's just as easy to shout profane responses and society would accept that. God's standards for dealing with these sorts of things are different though, and we have to trust that the wisdom he has bestowed upon us can be both useful and safe.
It's not easy being nice, but at least God's definition of nice is different than the world's.
Liz is a writer in Nashville, Tenn. She eats stories like grapes and has a very serious appreciation for macaroni and cheese. Follow her on Twitter at your own risk, @riggser, or read more of her ramblings at lizriggs.com.
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