My 30th birthday was a day to remember.
But it wasn’t the instragrammable stuff that made it memorable.
It wasn’t the awe-inspiring personal flight we took around the Bay Area in a 4 seater propeller plane. It wasn’t the delicious and picture worthy food we ate. It wasn’t the the exciting and inspiring movie we saw. It wasn’t the generous gifts that I received. All those made the day great. But it was something much less shiny and fancy that made it stand out.
Like magic laced throughout the day, my wife had set it up for me to open up and read / watch 30 or so notes and videos from friends and family. Simple in delivery. Some wrapped up in plain white envelopes. Others sent over text message. Far from fancy but oh so meaningful.
The amount of affirmation, encouragement, gratitude, love, insight, blessing — it was hard to grasp at first. I felt as if I had drank from a fire hydrant. And it wasn’t just any generic encouragement. It was specific, detailed, personal. It did something to my heart that few things could do.
I’m sure it can be said of most of us, but we are usually our own worst critics. We see the ugly when folks might see the good, we know the bad thoughts we have while others might just hear our polished words. So it is no wonder why it is so easy to see yourself at times as being less than what you really are (in any area of life) — to miss seeing the beauty because you are too focused on the mess.
Those words didn’t just encourage me - they affirmed what I had come to overlook, dismiss and write off. Those words reminded me of the hard work I’ve put in over the years, the faithfulness I’ve tried to exemplify, the humility I’ve cried out after, the times I’ve had to confess and repent, the heart-work that is behind the scenes, the love I really had for Jesus and people. Somehow, in the midst of the grind of life, the stuff I did and the effort I gave became so normal that it lost its weight and worth. Don’t get me wrong, my track record is scattered with L’s. But when you are in the thick of it, you lose sight of the good seeds you have sown.
Sometimes you will need someone to lift your eyes up from the ground that you are planting seeds in to look at some of the fruit that has grown. Affirmation does that.
You and I might not be where we want to be, but chances are, if we asked some close folks around us, we would be shocked to hear the ways that God has been working in and through our broken lives. That is the power of affirmation - it affirms things that are true but might be overlooked and written off.
I know I have a long way to go in a lot of areas of life - but I also know after all those words, that I am further along than I would have admitted and believed - and God is at work more than I was aware.
You matter, what you are doing matters - and you are going to be tempted to doubt it all - resist it and, with the eyes of faith, choose to see the seeds you are sowing and trust the one who causes the growth!
Affirm. Personally. Specifically. Deeply. Often.