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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Charlotte, You Have My Heart

My home away from home.

This is going to be ironic because my last article was about being hurt, which is honestly an ongoing battle, but after a few weeks of refreshing my mind away from the lull of social media, I am feeling more at ease now instead of on edge.

I'll tell you why.

This past weekend, I went to a place that has felt like home for the past year even though I had never physically been there. I went to a place that brings light to dark days and situations. I went to a place that introduced me to the best relationship in my life.

Elevation Church in Charlotte, North Carolina is my home away from home and I finally made a weekend trip to go visit and attend a Saturday night service.

Let me just tell you, Pastor Steven has been preaching on a series called #SavageJesus and Jesus is the bomb - even more so than I thought.

Sorry, I just had to get that out there.

But let me tell you what I learned from this sermon.

Pastor Steven was preaching in Mark 1:40 about the leper.

Lepers in that time were not allowed to go anywhere near "clean" people. If they did, they had to shout "Unclean" before even making it there.

Well, the man with leprosy was so tired of feeling unclean that he would rather risk trying to see and talk to Jesus than continue his life in isolation.

The leper made it to Jesus and asked Him to make him clean. Of course, Jesus did, because He's a loving Savior.

But this is what I took away from this sermon.

In the wise words of Pastor Steven: Jesus can't heal what you don't reveal.

This relates back to my last article; I felt hurt, sad, lonely, confused. I felt like my walls were caving in and I was being smothered by everything around me. I felt helpless.


I revealed my hurt, my sadness, my loneliness and confusion. I admitted that I had no clue what I was doing and I was tired of trying to figure it out on my own; I couldn't do it anymore.

So, I gave it to God. I had no other choice.

And then Pastor Steven put it into the perfect words: He can't heal what you don't reveal.

And when I revealed my hurt, I felt God take it all in His own hands, like a breath of fresh air.

Thank you, Elevation, for being the guiding light towards my relationship with God and Jesus Christ. It was the best coincidence I ever had by coming across you on YouTube. God put you in my life at the right time, when He knew I needed guidance, when I needed healing.

I can never say thank you enough to the clearness you have brought into my heart and mind.

Cover Image Credit: Mandy Parsons

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If God Is Good, Then God Must Not Be All-Powerful

This might be blasphemy, but it’s what I believe.

I believe in God. Let’s start there. I really like the idea that there is a greater power in the universe, beyond what we so far have been able to explain with science, and I believe that I have personally felt God’s presence in the world.

I’m a born-and-raised Jew, though my parents never demanded that I believe, only that I respect their traditions while I lived in their house. I decided, growing up, that I liked those traditions, and that I believed in God.

My relationship with God is, in a word, complicated. Sometimes I’m more reverent than others. I praise God some days and on others I mutter snarky comments to God that would make Tevye the Milkman proud. I go through phases where I write G-d instead of God, out of respect for the holy name. Other times – like now – I think, “God’s name isn’t actually ‘God,’ so what does it matter how I spell it in English? It’s not like he/she/they/whatever minds.”

This complicated relationship with God is pretty typical for Jews. Our patriarch Jacob is known for literally wrestling with God. Rabbis have been debating God’s laws, intentions, and even God’s very existence for over five thousand years. There are atheist Jews.

There’s an old joke about three rabbis debating a point, two trying to convince the third to change his mind. Eventually God shouts down from the heavens to say that the third rabbi is, in fact, correct. To that the two rabbis say, “Eh, it’s still just two on two.”

Recently I spent several days working at an event with a lot of motivational speakers. A recurring theme of these speakers’ presentations was that God had a plan for everyone. Some of them hedged their comments by saying that they weren’t trying to force their beliefs on anyone, and that we could call God whatever we wanted, but they maintained that God had a plan for everyone.

But that isn’t a general God concept. This is a specifically Christian concept. For Jews, God has an intent, but not necessarily a plan. God began creation, but now he’s pretty hands-off about it; it’s our job to continue the creation process and heal the world. The closest Jews get to the concept of God having a plan is the stuff we say on Yom Kippur about God inscribing people into the book of life for a new year. According to Judaism, if God has a plan – and that’s a big “if” – it’s re-written at least yearly, and we can ask for it to be altered.

A lot of Christians I’ve met in my life take comfort in the idea that God has everything planned out for them. They respond to their failures with the line, “God must have something else planned for me,” and with tragedies with the line, “God must be trying to teach me something.” Which is all well and good in my opinion for a lot of the smaller bad things that happen in the world.

But some bad things are just too big for me to understand as a part of a plan. Children get incurable cancers. Tornadoes wipe away entire communities in a single night. All over the world, all throughout history, people in power label a group as the source of all their problems and use that as reason to murder millions, and no miracle stops them.

The question of why bad things happen to good people is a question that people have been asking forever. My personal conclusion is this: God is not all-powerful.

If God is all-powerful, if God has a plan for all of us and controls everything that happens to us, and those things involve child cancer and genocide, then how could God be good?

Perhaps my brain is just too mortal and fallible to comprehend the logic of God. I certainly don’t have enough hubris to claim that I understand God’s will. But with the mind and the morals that I do have, I cannot see a completely all-powerful God who controlled everything and yet caused or allowed such things to happen as good.

I very much prefer to believe that God is good. I don’t want to believe in a cruel God. Therefore, God must not be all-powerful. God must not control everything. And I’m fine with that.

We say that humans were made in the image of God. Humans are imperfect, so God too may be imperfect. I can believe in an imperfect God. I am very happy with the idea that when bad things happen, God is watching with as much horror as we are.

That isn’t to say that God never does anything for us. As I said, I believe I have felt God’s presence. We call it b’shert – when things just work out so well there’s no way someone wasn’t pulling the strings. B’shert is leaving the house, realizing you left your cell phone, and going back in to find that you left the stove on. B’shert is the little voice in your head telling you to take a different route to work, and later you learn that there was a big accident on your normal route. B’shert is the tornado missing your house.

B’shert is God exerting influence on the world. It is not God controlling everything. It is not God following a plan. It is not God making bad things happen to good people. I do not believe that God does any of those things.

Perhaps one day, after I die, I will come face-to-face with God.

Perhaps God will say to me, “You’re wrong. I’m all-powerful, and I controlled everything, and you’re going to hell for believing incorrectly.”

To that I would reply, “Send me to hell, then. I’ll be in good company there, with the Jews, atheists, homosexuals, and everyone else you’ve arbitrarily damned. We know how to suffer together.”

Or perhaps God will say to me, “You’re wrong. I’m all-powerful, and I controlled everything. But I forgive you for not believing. Come with me to heaven.”

To that I would reply, “No. I will not go with you. You may have forgiven me, but I have not forgiven you.”

Cover Image Credit: Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

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