Back in the day, I would find it really hard to encourage her when she cooked something nice. To actually articulate “this tastes great” didn’t seem to roll off my tongue very easily. It took me a while, but I worked out I feared that by saying HER cooking was good I was saying MY cooking was inferior. That innate in complimenting her was an element of putting myself down or somehow lessening my own abilities. So the combination of my pride and jealousy stopped me from encouraging her, fearful I would somehow diminish myself by affirming her.
You’re all shaking your heads and ‘tutting’ quietly to yourselves right now … “that Kim sure has problems, who would do such a thing?” YOU WOULD! Go on, admit it, you do it! Or you’ve done it. Or you know someone who has done it.
As we looked at in previous blogs, jealousy is fuelled by comparison. We look to those around us to determine if we are going ‘ok’ or not. When we fall to this mindset encouragement is often a casualty. We think that to affirm something good about you is to infer something ‘less good’ about me and when we are already feeling uncertain about where we are on the ladder of ‘okay-ness’ we can’t concede any ground. I can’t say you are good at something because it puts you further up the ladder of “good-ness” and because that ladder can only have one person on each rung (clearly, because we can’t all be good at the same thing at the same time right? *sarcasm*) you’ve just bumped me down if I bump you up.
As with the notion of celebration (as discussed in the previous blog) withholding encouragement indicates that we are so caught up in the comparison and jealousy cycle that it has messed with our sense of reason.
If someone does something well – if they demonstrate a skill or a character trait or achieve or create something – it stands alone in its worthiness of encouragement and celebration. You might be in awe of another person’s exceptional capacity in something but how you well you do it hasn’t actually changed. It just feels like it has.
Jealousy keeps us from fulfilling one of the key purposes we have as God’s children and that is to BUILD ONE ANOTHER UP. To sow encouragement into the lives of those around us. To use our words to bring hope and motivation and courage and boldness. When we withhold encouragement because of jealousy we nurture an unhealthy heart attitude in ourselves and rob others of all that we could inject into their hearts and lives by our words of affirmation. No one wins.
For reflection … how often do you withhold your encouragement of another person because of jealousy or comparison or competition? Who could you encourage TODAY?