It seems that these two words tend to go hand-in-hand in our society these days. Whether we’re attempting to look better, have a more beautifully-decorated home, or be a better mother than every other woman…we’re paralyzing our effectiveness through our attacks on each other and even our jealousy of one another. This was blatantly apparent in the comments on a post I shared earlier this week and it seems to be encouraged in the media today.
I want to tell you a little story that has to do with this very issue.
There were once two girls who were seniors in high school who had gone to the same school together since kindergarten. Both of these girls chose to run for Student Body President in their school. They were also best friends at the time.
(I’m sure at this point you might be envisioning a major cat fight and a lost friendship due to the circumstances of these two women competing against each other for the same position.)
Instead of competing against each other, these two girls began campaigning for each other, speaking highly of the other person at every opportunity they could. When it came time to deliver their speeches to the entire student body, these girls chose to wear matching outfits and went out on the stage together. Instead of delivering a speech about each of their individual qualifications to be student body president, each girl chose to exalt her friend instead…in essence, delivering a campaign speech of the other person’s behalf.
When it came time to vote, only one of the best friends won. But the other girl was genuinely happy for her friend. She celebrated with her friend and then won the election for Senior Class President. They served together side-by-side for their final year of high school, even closer to each other than ever before.
Are you touched? Me too. You see, I was one of those girls.
I don’t tell you this to make myself look good. In fact, I tell you this for the exact opposite reason: There is absolutely no way I could have acted this way on my own. I struggle with self-confidence and jealousy, which typically only add fuel to the fire in this type of situation. But because of my friend’s encouragement and our common faith in God, we were able to treat each other with respect, love, and admiration even in the midst of ‘competition’ with one another.
I have had the immense blessing of having some incredible Christian friends throughout my life. This friendship is certainly no exception. I have always been the type of person who has needed one or two REALLY strong friendships (and then I can have lots of more surface-level friendships). I am a bit of an introvert, so I don’t typically open up to large groups of people. And by large, I typically mean more than 2 or maybe 3. Finding a friend like this one who I can fully trust and who I know will encourage me to be a better person is truly a treasure.
The moral of the story is that we, as women, do not need to be in competition with one another. We need to be encouraging one another. We need to be accountable to one another. We need to be cheering one another on!
This certainly isn’t something we can do on our own, though. It goes against everything “natural” inside of us NOT to be jealous of someone who has something we want…whether that is a better body, a more beautiful house, or smarter, more well-behaved children!
We need two things to stop this epidemic:
1) God. He is the only one who can heal our hearts from jealousy.
2) To find friends in whom we can confide and who will encourage us to be a better person.
When we are tempted to compete with other women, let’s take a step back. If we can muster the strength (with God’s help), find a way to encourage that other woman. If we simply cannot, even after praying for strength, let’s just decide to remove ourselves from the situation entirely and refuse to compete.
“So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind…” -1 Thessalonians 5:11 (MSG)
(On a somewhat unrelated note, it makes me wonder how different our elections might be if those running for office took this approach instead of all the mud-slinging…)