The Difference Between Niceness And Kindness

The Difference Between Niceness And Kindness

Contrary to popular belief, they are not the same thing.

If you were to look in a thesaurus (online or otherwise) under nice, you would find the word kind. We use these words interchangeably on the regular, but I propose that they are not synonymous. In actuality, there is a wide gap between the two. The distinction matters because we often take kindness for granted and give niceness more credit than it deserves.

Being nice looks like polite gestures, compliments, and human courtesy. Being kind looks like servanthood, altruism, and generosity. Niceness is fine and dandy, but kindness is what would make the world a better place.

Let's go to the source, shall we? Niceness is rooted in the aim to please. It is externally motivated by the opinions of others. It is surface-level and self-sustaining. Rarely do we ever do something nice—holding the door, complimenting someone's shoes, obligatorily asking how the cashier's day is—without expecting at least a "thank you" in return. You sacrifice nothing in being nice. Half the time we use it as a tool to placate someone or to get on their good side. Describing someone as a "nice person" is what you say when you've only had one interaction with them in which they did not directly offend you. The criteria isn't exactly prestigious. Niceness can come across as saccharine, so why would you choose artificial sweetness when you could have the real thing?

Kindness, on the other hand, is rooted in love. Kindness comes from a higher power through the goodness of one's heart. Being kind entails actions like intentionally utilizing somebody's love language, paying for the person behind you in the drive thru, or going out of your way to make a stranger's day. Kindness knows no ulterior motives, but is best friends with compassion and empathy. Kindness causes you to want to invest in people's lives. Proverbs 16:24 says, "Kind words are like honey—sweet to the soul and healthy for the body." Some translations use "gracious" or "pleasant" instead of "kind," but not-a-one uses "nice." Parents tell their kids to "play nice," because children aren't necessarily developed enough as people to act on the deeper trait of kindness. The best people I know are the ones who ooze kindness day in and day out.

There is nothing wrong with being a nice person, don't get me wrong, but I encourage all of us to strive to be kind people. Compliment someone's disposition instead of their designer handbag. Hold someone when they are hurting instead of just holding the door.

A little bit of kindness goes a long way.

Cover Image Credit: Pinterest

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What It’s Like Being A Christian At A Liberal University

The constant struggle of trying to dissolve the clichés and long-held assumptions towards religion.

Upon attending a liberal university, I started to understand the mindset many people have towards religion. Simply because I hold religious beliefs, I am often considered illogical, overly-optimistic and ignorant.

I’ve sat through biology lectures that teach students that some people have a greater propensity to "fall for religion" simply because of their genetic composition. I’ve heard my philosophy professor emphasize how "spirit" does not exist and that humans are just breathing machines with no soul or purpose.

I’ve listened to my art teacher imply that only those who want to live in fantasy believe in a god because they’ll do anything to help them sleep at night.

Being a Christian at a liberal campus can be difficult because of how people view Christians and what they associate with religion.

It’s hard to explain that the beliefs I hold did not come from force-fed religious jargon in my childhood. It’s hard to share that I believe in a God who practices love, acceptance and second chances and who does not, in fact, hate the gays. It’s hard to stand for a belief that has been tainted by uptight religious undertones and obligatory customs.

The God I believe in went to the church and ridiculed the priests for their strict laws and fixed judgments. The gospel I live by depicts a man who befriended the criminals and prostitutes; who demanded mercy to be given to the adulterous when death was her sentence. The religion I follow is meant for the broken, the imperfect and the lost, in order to give them the chance to become people greater than themselves.

When you take away the voices that misrepresent Christianity, you will see that its final message is for everyone to demonstrate love, patience, and compassion in everything they do. Whether you choose to believe my story or not, it’s important to understand what Christianity stands for--the same goes for every viewpoint out there.

When attending a university with a diverse array of belief systems, it’s important to remain open-minded and strive to understand the intricacies of different cultures and contrasting morals. It’s imperative to look past the stereotypes and assumptions held toward certain beliefs. Only through taking time to understand one another and different perspectives, can harmonious living and discourse be obtained.

Being a Christian at a liberal university can be challenging at times, but when you meet people that are truly willing to listen and present their beliefs to you, it can fuel genuine and enlightening conversation.

Being on this campus has not only allowed me to collaborate with like-minded believers but also to engage in authentic relationships with people that hold different perspectives than my own. College is a time for learning and absorbing everything we can. It is within this community that we can do just that, simply by listening to one another.

Cover Image Credit: Priscilla Du Preez

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Thank You, InterVarsity, For Being The Best Part Of College Yet

"For where two or three are are gathered in my name, there am I among them" — Matthew 18:20

When I came to college, I knew that my faith was important to me, and I really wanted to be a part of a Christian organization. However, I had no idea how to find one or where to start. It turned out that instead of searching for and finding it on my own, InterVarsity, a large Christian organization at James Madison, found me. Here's how I became involved, and why it's the best thing that has happened to me since I've started my journey as a college student.

On my first week of college, (also known as FROG week) I heard through the grapevine about this weird event called the "watermelon bash." I wasn't sure if I wanted to go, as I hadn’t been off campus yet, and I didn’t know any upperclassmen that were involved in InterVarsity. At the last minute, some friends from my hall convinced me to tag along with them. So, I crammed into a car with a bunch of strangers (probably not the best judgment on my part, but it turned out okay) and off we went.

When we arrived, there was an overwhelming sea of people in the backyard of a house. It was a whirlwind; so many people introduced themselves to me, and I probably gave my phone number to at least 4 different small group leaders. And on top of that, it was dark outside, so I can hardly recognize most people that I met at that event. Nonetheless, I decided that Intervarsity, without a doubt, was where I wanted to be.

So, after that whirlwind event, I attended large group on a Friday night, where I fought for good seats and worshiped the Lord with my brand new lifelong friends. It was there that I signed up to be part of small group.

One day, I received a phone call from a number I had never seen before, and despite the fact that I almost never answer phone calls from people that aren't in my contacts, I decided to pick up.

"Hi Dakotah, this is BryAnna and Hannah, we're your small group leaders!"

And just like that, I became part of a group of girls that I now know will be lifelong friends, and for the next four years (and hopefully beyond our graduation day) we will spend time growing our friendships and supporting each others' relationships with Christ. What a great decision it was to answer that phone call.

Since then, our small group has experienced everything from tunneling, paint twister, and a weekend retreat with no phone service and lots of flannel, to receiving undeniable signs from God, and we have supported each other through everything that college life has thrown at us.

I am so thankful for InterVarsity, as it has given me amazing friends, beautiful memories, and the opportunity to take responsibility for my faith in God. I can't wait to see how God will continue to bless me through this organization during my time as a JMU student.

Cover Image Credit: Greyson Joralemon on unsplash

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