Hello faithful blog readers, I hope you have been enjoying the commentary of our lives this year and have gotten a taste of just how wise, funny, insightful, and faithful each Fellow is. Today I don’t come with any deep revelation, but rather a note of gratefulness and a reminder of a practice I think the Fellows have recently been convicted of.

Over the past few weeks discussion on self-regard and image have come up in in class, Monday night roundtables, and casually around dinner or a game of bananagrams. From all those conversations I have walked away with a new understanding and pursuit of a practice I think we don’t spend enough time doing, the practice of affirmation. I think the common thought in society is that affirmations can be equated with compliments. Both are great, but a true affirmation will kind of hit you in the face and make you go “wait, you’re talking about me?” While that may sound aggressive, a good affirmation wrecks you in all the best ways, so much so that it leads you to call out the “glory” in others and remember that which Christ has called out in us. How often does our world flood us with images, words, ideas that suck us into negative places of thought towards ourselves and others?

Scripture encourages us in multiple places to take up this practice for our and others’ sake; Paul’s letter in Ephesians 4, talks directly about Christian life and verse 29 says it well: “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear”

And again in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 in which the author gives praise for the ways their words are encouraging others in their faith.

Wow, do I need that grace in my life. I think we all do - that’s why we crave affirmation. So often the voices of our most treasured friends shed a light on the true self we let the rest of the world cast a shadow on.

I think there are a few things we can do in relation to affirmations that will help reveal to ourselves and others that we are called 'beloved' in Christ:

1. Accept compliments and words of affirmation from others. The lack of this practice has unfortunately caused an aversion to receive any kind word. Saying “thank you”, “I appreciate that”, or simply smiling, but do not rejecting what someone sees in you and wants to encourage you with is a practical way to receive. Who knows, maybe after a while you will start to believe it instead of immediately shutting it down.

2. Look for ways you can bring grace to someone through affirmations. Make it a point to see how someone may be needing encouragement and affirm them in the ways they are capable simply by naming who the Lord has made them to be. Cast vision for the ways you believe the Lord has gifted them and will use those gifts.

3. Pray that the Lord will reveal to you in His word and through His people how He sees you. Scripture is the Lord’s letter to us and over and over it affirms who we are and the love He has for us just for being ourselves.

I’ll leave you with some affirmations Molly passed along to the Fellows after roundtable one week. I started them half-heartedly thinking I was secure in who I am and in just a week of writing them on my mirror and reading them every morning, I began to realize I hadn’t wholeheartedly believed these things to be true for me all the time. Through my fellow Fellows, teachers, and mentors I have been pushed to see the self they all see when I couldn't this year. I am so grateful. Your words of encouragement, vision, and affirmation in who you see me to be have helped me silence the doubt, worry, and negative regard for myself.

Let’s commit to changing the way we talk/think about ourselves and to help each other see our glory in Christ.

-I have no fear or anxiety; I trust in The Lord with all my heart.
Proverbs 3:5,6. "Trust in The Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight."
-I am able to fulfill the calling God has placed on my life.
Psalm 57:2. "I cry out to God Most High, to God, who fulfills his purpose in me."
-I am fully resourced to do all God has called me to do.  
Deuteronomy 8:18. "But remember the Lord your God for it is he who has given you the ability to produce wealth, and so confirms his covenant he has given to your forefathers, as it is today."