Sunday, November 7, 2010


Affirmation is about who a person is.
Compliments are about what a person does.

Recently I attended a two-day conference where we were asked to do an affirmation exercise.  We were divided into groups of two and given of list of over 150 affirming words.  We were asked to circle all the words that would affirm our partner and then choose five to verbally share with stories to back up our choices.

I experienced three big lessons about affirmation that day.

Jay* was my partner.  Jay and I have a fairly new friendship.  We met only three months ago.  There are many of those new friendship details that I don’t know about her.  But, I found it easy to affirm her.  What a delight.  First affirmation lesson, I don’t need to know a person well to affirm them. 

Later in the day on one of our breaks I was visiting with a young wife.  Her words were, “my husband is not good at affirming me”.  I felt sad that that was her experience.  And I also wondered if she was missing some of her husband’s affirming ways.

I have experienced words of affirmation voiced by my husband Bill at times.  But more often I experience his written words of affirmation.  I love the cards he chooses for me and writes on.  My birthday card from five months ago is still standing on my dresser.  I wish I had saved those early letters he wrote when we were just beginning to know each other.  I need to be more of a romantic!
Second affirmation lesson, affirmation takes many different forms.

A third lesson on affirmation is a hard one.  It also displayed itself during the weekend.  Another friend was sharing about her experience with the affirmation exercise over a meal.  The affirming words had ignited her shame.  She shared when her friend affirmed her artistic bent, she heard that as “I’m not organized”.  Every word used to affirm her, she had a “not” for. 

I do that too sometimes.  Many times others have recognized my strength in hospitality.  Often I have put that down with this sentence, “No big deal, that’s easy for me”.  How dishonoring to God who created me hospitable and who is delighted when I use my home to minister to others.  Third affirmation lesson, even a positive thing like affirmation can ignite shame and feelings of unworthiness.

I enjoy affirmation.  I need affirmation to help me live out who God created me to be.  God is the ultimate affirmer.  Because I desire to grow in godliness, I need to grow in affirming the good things I see in others. 

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well”.  Psalm 139:14

1 comment:

  1. Another BIG thanks Sue! I'm just about to go write thanksgiving cards to the staff who live with us - and God knew I needed to hear what you just wrote before doing this! We've only lived with them three months - your first point really encourages me I can still do this! :0) And does it ever spur me on to pray asking God to give me the words to affirm them and not just compliment - and to pray asking Him to protect them from feeling shameful or unworthy when reading what I write. This isn't easy for me - but reading how we "need affirmation" to help us "live out who God created" us to be. Wow! Talk about motivation to dive in and do it!