Friday, April 20, 2012

Forced Kindness?

I have a guy friend who hates being obligated to encourage others.

I've scoffed at his resistance to it for the last year, but just today I realized what he was really saying. In my head I had always heard, 'I hate encouraging people, especially when people ask me to do it.'  In reality, he's been saying, 'I hate empty encouragement...and when people force me to give encouragement, I usually feel like it's meaningless.'

I get that. I agree with him. I, myself, don't typically offer any sort of encouragement if I don't really mean it. The difference is, when obligated, I'm usually able to find some sort of sincere encouragement to give someone. Stuff that I know I should say and that someone else might need to hear, and I recognize that this a good way to love others. I'm just not super awesome at offering up kind sometimes the extra push from an outside source is a good motivator for me.

Aside from that, he raised another interesting point I want to focus on more. Obligatory encouragement to girls (from guys) is probably a bad idea. Not always... but, hear me out.

In Christian circles we're especially fond of forcing others to encourage others. In and of itself, I don't think it's a bad thing... and I don't think we typically have bad motivation when doing it... but, here's what seems to happen:

In one particular setting, a group might be participating in a 'love' circle. One where they stick a person in the middle and everyone goes around and says one nice thing about that person. Inevitably, this one guy (or girl, for that matter) will say something about the person in the middle that makes people raise an eyebrow. Just what did he mean when he said that?

It's especially awful when the girl in the middle likes one of the boys in the group. He has no chance at success, for if he says anything kind, she will read into it. Us girls can make something as simple as, 'I enjoyed getting to know you better' mean the world to us. We take any good thing that comes out of his mouth and we read into it. Immediately we go into la-la land and wonder what he means, if he likes us, if he would consider dating us.

We've forgotten that he was required to say something nice to us (well, I guess there was always a choice... but his options were to say something somewhat positive or just look like a complete jerk). He may mean what he says, but for us to take it the wrong way isn't cool. I realize guys with a crush may be tempted to take things the wrong way, too.

My point?
Maybe these Christian love fests aren't the most productive things in the world. Maybe they don't always accomplish what we hope they will accomplish. I get the idea behind them, and I do think there's some validity there... but forcing others to tell someone else something positive? I do wonder how much of it is meaningless- just empty words to fill the silence. I do wonder how many girls cling to the words of their current crush in these moments and build them up to be something that they're not.

Crazy us.
Crazy Christians.
Sometimes I think, while our hearts may be good, our methods are off.

I don't know. I'm still considering it... but I do know that I'll think twice when given the chance to lead others through obligatory encouragement exercises.

* * *

Your entries will remain anonymous

No comments:

Post a Comment