How To Encourage Without Comparing
Over a slab of glossy wood hidden under pages, books, plates, and cups, I sat at a sweet and breezy café just steps away from the oceanfront. Without an ounce of restraint I let loose a string of thoughts regarding my current life circumstances that had been stored inside of me.
My friend sat across from me somewhat startled, patient, and periodically reassuring me that I was indeed going to be “just fine.” With wisdom, she began to share with me all that she believed I was doing right. It was just what I needed: encouragement sweet like honey to my soul.
[pullquote width="300" float="right"]God didn't create you to be a replica of someone else, He dreamed you up for a purpose that only you can fulfill.[/pullquote]
But, then she began to place me in a position that I hurriedly wanted to run away from. Innocent in intent, she handed me a laundry list of why she thought I was better than the other people in my circumstances who I was working with. The encouragement that seconds ago had tasted so sweet, turned heavy and bitter, quickly becoming a fierce ache in my heart.
Automatically, something felt wrong. Why did she have to say such hurtful things about others in order to compliment me?
If she felt the need to take every one else down, then maybe what she said about me wasn’t true. When I took some time out of my (arguably) busy schedule to really pray about it, I was hit with a question seemingly covering a larger scope.
Why do we settle to give encouragement born out of comparison?
It is no secret that comparison will take away your joy faster than your dog will get to the food that drops off your dinner plate. But why - when we know it’s so unhealthy for our souls - do we seem so often to gravitate towards comparison? It seems to be woven into the fabric God has knit us together with an aching desire to be loved, wanted, noticed, to be seen as worthy. And comparison is often the vehicle we use to try to fill up that vacant space.
Comparison will continuously tempt us towards competition. It feeds us a desire to be acknowledged that we are better than the rest. But, do we really feel “better than the rest” when our hearts feel gross and trashy, as if they reek like a dumpster in back of a fast food restaurant?
Competition, belittlement, and favoritism will always contaminate the purity of a community from the inside out.
What if we decided to not take the cheap route in giving encouragement to others?
We are the redeemed children of God who should refuse to squander the hearts of others to build up each other or ourselves. Foremost, as human beings, we have no right to inflict pain and suffering on the heart of another person through judgment and comparison.
[pullquote width="300" float="right"]"For we dare not class ourselves or compare ourselves with those who commend themselves. But they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise." -2 Corinthians 10:12[/pullquote]
Like most things, the root of this can be addressed in the depths of our hearts before the words even venture to the tips of our tongues. Lets choose to silence comparison in our hearts and minds first. Then, let’s stand and speak true, beautiful, life-giving words to each other, and to ourselves, that don’t come from a place of comparison but rather from the pure love we have received from God.
To begin this transformation of your thoughts from a place of comparison to a place of true understanding of your identity as a child of God, I encourage you to turn to the Bible. Do some research and reading about how the Creator of this world feels about you, the daughter of the King of Kings.
Here are a few verses to get started: Psalm 139, 1 Peter 2:9, 1 Corinthians 6:19-20, 1 John 3:1-3, and Colossians 3:1-4.
“God never uses one approach to the get his job done in the world. Each soul has its own way of being reached. He has put inside of each of us an unique song, that only another heart can hear clearly. To wish you were someone else robs another human being of the special blessings, talents and gifts God meant for you to share.” -Shannon L. Alder
Don't let your measuring stick be other people, but instead, find your worth in the heart of His Word. Because God didn't create you to be a replica of someone else, He dreamed you up for a purpose that only you can fulfill. Embrace that.
// Image one // Image two courtesy of Elizabeth Bosovik