Some folks are very deep into affirmations, be it giving them to others or memorizing them to give to themselves. I’ve often been the skeptical receiver, assuming the giver doesn’t know me well enough to affirm me and/or is hoping that their affirmation will make themselves feel better about our relationship. Like, “If I can toss these words her way, she’ll know I’m a good, older, wiser figure in her life.” To which I respond with, “I’m gonna let your words float right passed me.”
I speak those words in my head, of course.
The most powerful affirmations have been when the good things I’ve discovered about myself over time get co-signed by moments here and there. For example, I learned a few years ago that I have a calming presence and that there was great benefit in leaning into that when in an uncomfortable situation. One night I was called to the hospital, asked to provide spiritual support to a group of people whose loved one had been shot and killed. I was the on-call chaplain that weekend. I hopped into my navy blue Honda Civic EX with zero clue as to what I would say yet resolved to trust my calming presence.
I walked around the large waiting room where at least 20 people were sitting or standing and processing the evening’s events in their own ways—some alone, others in small groups. With some I stopped and prayed. With others, I asked if they needed tissue or water. I asked the security guards if they could get me some bottles of water. They did. I found a stash of tissues and handed them to whoever seemed in need. And sometimes I sat and prayed, asking God to reveal to me my next move. I didn’t leave until everyone left, probably not what a seasoned pastor would have advised. Just be there maybe 30 minutes, say a prayer with the group, then get back to your family. Pretty sure it was at least an hour before a nurse came in with news about how no one could see the body until investigations were completed…which wouldn’t be tonight.
A week or so later, I got a call from the hospital letting me know that the folks really appreciated me being there that night. Even the security guards spoke to how great it was to have me and my calm. There it was, the co-sign further validating what I’d already learned was true.
For a while, I’d kept a list of my good traits beside my bathroom mirror. It was one way to review them regularly, believe them more. I wish I could remember where I put that list. It would be fun to review it, to be reminded of what is good and true and exist in that space even more fully.
Living as myself is exactly the way I’m supposed to be. I’m getting closer. This is 43.