Time to Praise the Tall Poppy

I was living in Vancouver at the time, attending Bible College by day and working at a burger joint at night. Money was tight. A polka dot fashion trend ensued (late 80’s) and I desperately wanted a pair of black pants with white polka dots. After saving hard I was finally able to buy them. I was one very happy customer. A good friend of mine loved them too and before I could wear them she asked if she could borrow them. After wearing them she washed them in hot water and shrunk them. When I put them on I realised there was a problem. They were too tight and too short. I never got to wear them. I never raised the issue with my friend. When she asked to borrow them again I gave them to her to keep without raising suspicion. Simply, I didn’t want to discourage her.

Most people would’ve said something – at least acknowledged the damage to property, but I never said anything. Make no mistake I was gutted about the pants. However my friend’s emotional state at the time was more important to me. The dictionary defines the word ‘encourage’ as to ‘support, inspire or give hope’.  The prefix ‘dis’ means ‘not’ as in dis-ease, (‘not at ease’) and ‘discourage’ which means ‘to not support, to not inspire and to not give hope’. I’m sure most of want to be ‘encouraging’ however my personal experience is that the default of most people is to be discouraging.

I live in a country that is known for the ‘tall poppy syndrome’. This is a ‘social phenomenon in which people of genuine merit are resented, attacked, cut down, or criticised because their talents or achievements elevate them above or distinguish them from their peers.’ In layman’s terms – others love to pull you down when you’re doing well.

I refuse to be that voice in the life of my friends, family, co-workers or brothers and sisters in Christ. I refuse to rubbish their dreams, criticise their plans or tell them why they can’t succeed. To be encouraging I often have to undertake a series of mental gymnastics because like everyone else my first thoughts are often negative. I think ‘bad’ but I don’t do ‘bad’. I take those unhelpful, negative thoughts and feelings and filter them through the heart of a God. And what’s in God’s heart – the very best for every person on planet Earth.

You may ask how I would’ve discouraged my friend by letting her know what she had done to my pants….

My friend’s story went something like this. She had a drunken one night stand with a guy at a pub. She got pregnant from that random encounter and gave birth to a beautiful baby girl called Amelia. Amelia was born with a rare condition known commonly as ‘brittle bone disease’. Amelia had numerous fractures at birth and it was commonplace for her bones to break while simply getting her nappy changed. At some point between the one night stand and giving birth this friend found Jesus. The father was never able to be located. She struggled emotionally and financially and at the time of the polka dots pants incident Amelia hadn’t had a fracture for a while and my friend had gotten a job. She had been experiencing a small but significant run of positive circumstances. Instinctively I knew that raising the whole pants thing would have pulled that ‘poppy down’. She would’ve certainly been gutted at accidently ruining my pants and discouraged at not being able to afford to replace them.

I want to encourage you to put a filter on yourself.  Think about what you are saying to the people around you – those that you work with, those that you live with and those that you choose to hold close and do life with. Be the voice of encouragement and inspiration in their lives. Be the one that says ‘you can’ instead of being the one that says ‘you can’t ‘.  Be a person that blows on their dreams and believes the very best for them and their life. At the very least be the absence of discouragement even if you can’t encourage. This position has many blessings – you will often be the first to know the purposes and plans of others because they will trust you with their deepest hopes and aspirations. You will also celebrate and share in their joy when they succeed. It’s a great way to live. Please try it.

PS: I now own a ‘little black dress’ with white polka dots. I love it.

Over and Out,


2 Comments to “Time to Praise the Tall Poppy”

  1. I like that: be the absence of discouragement If you can’t encourage

    • That is the one line my husband came up with. I loved it too so I put it in mhy post. I am sure through your experience you know exactly what I am talking about. Keep going your blog is awesome and I enjoy reading it.

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