The seeds of self-hatred, self-doubt, and depression lurk in the heart of every person. So do resentment and envy of other people. Why is he so successful? Why does she have so many male admirers? Why does his family have all that money and mine has nothing? Why is she so pretty and I’m so not? It’s hard to affirm other people when you feel so needy. How can you fill someone else’s cup when you feel empty?
Here is one of the marvelous secrets of happy living that only the Bible can reveal because the concept is so counterintuitive. Ready? Here it is: when you really want something from someone else, like love, acceptance, and praise, you go first and give. “Encourage one another and build each other up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11), says St. Paul.
That is also one of the magic secrets of a happy marriage. Don’t wait to turn on the charm, kindness, and support until your partner is worthy of it. Go first. You know what? It works. Kind words (i.e., treating people better than they deserve) release love and kindness in others, and those will come back to you in even greater abundance. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. Isn’t that how Christ treats us?