I like words. I like reading them, I like hearing them and I obviously love to write them. I enjoy expanding my vocabulary and using “fifty-cent words” as my grandparents and sometimes parents called them. I get language. Not necessarily grammar, but the interrelation of words as they form sentences, paragraphs and stories. I adore flowery language. Think Jane Austen prose and Poe’s imagery. I appreciate a certain measure of the believable, even in fiction. I can suspend logic and reality for a fiction story…as long as the human elements seem plausible. When people of an established character suddenly start acting completely different…I don’t buy it.
Perhaps this love affair I have with words supports my need to have both confirmation and affirmation. Part of the love affair with words is a need to clearly define them when they are the subject of my conversation, as in, “according to Webster’s”. Let’s begin there. Confirmation is defined with a few circular definitions, a nod to a Christian rite regarding the Holy Spirit and the last listing (2b for anyone looking up the work online) “the process of supporting a statement by evidence.”. While we are visiting dear Merriam-Webster, let’s go ahead and define affirmation for our purposes. The definition for affirmation reflects the process of affirming or a positive assertion. Well that was not good enough for me so I dug deeper. Eventually, I am led to assert. Both definitions here work for me: 1. to state or declare positively and often forcefully or aggressively and 2. to demonstrate the existence of. (Yeah, those work well.)
Affirmation or “Please, please pat me on the head and say good job”
Let me flip things a bit and start with affirmation. I am discovering in my personal studies that I register very strong in both the server and exhorter categories. (I even took an assessment to confirm my thoughts. Ok, it might be a problem.) The server aspect did not surprise me. I generally try to jump in and help. Part of that is the way I was raised and part of it is just wanting to be of use. I expected to be strong in other Romans 12 gifts. Exhorter surprises me…until I read the definition of exhort. “To incite by argument or advice.” If you listen to Marilyn Hickey she describes the exhorter as the “one everyone likes” and someone who has to be able to apply things. So yeah, I am definitely an exhorter. Things sometimes register as useless to me if I cannot practically apply them in some way, shape or form. I tend to generate discussion, which sounds nicer than inciting anything. I see layers in people, circumstances and the world at large and I want to coax more out of those around me. This can be a great blessing or a huge obstacle.
Marilyn Hickey talks about the exhorter needing positive feedback or approval. This was the true catalyst for me connecting myself to this gift. If you pat me on the head and tell me I did a good job, I will try to do even better next time. Let me be honest, this is exhausting and sometimes discourages me from delegating. I want perfection. Remember the peaceful vision I shared with you of me moving through the fast like some sort of Mother Theresa. I set up these outrageous expectations that sometimes have not been put through the filter of God. They are not inspired by the Spirit…they are just my imagination coming alive. I am eager to get to work and poof – unrealistic expectations abound. This is an area I seriously have to hand over to God, otherwise, I get discouraged. I can get so caught up in wanting to please others that I get disappointed with something that was a success.
I am greatly blessed that I am in a fellowship of believers that is full of affirmation. It has helped my personal growth tremendously. I am doubly blessed to have that same circumstance in my professional world. My supervisor is positive and generous with affirmation. I have improved on the self critics and given myself a margin of error. (After all, those perfect pictures in my head are the ideal, not the real.) On a person to person note. If you are in a fellowship of believers that is not full of affirmation and gratitude, you need to be in prayer. I believe these components to be vital in a healthy church. They are also two elements you cannot fake.
Confirmation or “Am I on the right track or did the devil trip me?”
Just last night I was at a training class for connect group leaders. In the course of Pastor Will presenting the information, he made a statement about everyone being a leader. Whether you lead a relationship, family, small group etc., you are a leader in some capacity. I got so excited to hear him say that I nearly jumped out of my seat. Earlier in the afternoon I had been writing out some notes and doing research on a book I am developing about women leading. I had written down that “all women are born to lead”. My justification was we lead our families, relationships etc. That was confirmation for me. When I have a thought or write my ideas out, I am hoping to see confirmation. I want to know that I am on the right track.
During the last fast in August, I had been out on worker’s comp. Money was a concern. We had been tithing but I was starting to doubt a little…okay a lot. The first full day of fasting I was notified about a raise. I was out of work…why was I getting a raise? It was confirmation. I prayed for healing of my migraines. Then I finally claimed healing for my migraines. (There is a difference. One I prayed a problem the latter was praying the solution.) When all the circumstances were present that normally triggered a migraine and no migraine occurred, it was confirmation. Evidence. Confirmation is supporting evidence.
I frequently read something in the Word, feel I have had some sort of revelation and a few days later that revelation is confirmed by a message I hear. Sometimes confirmation comes from outcomes. For example, I shared last week that I had been disobedient about tithe in December. Then I shared with you an element of my past that had only been confessed to God and my husband. I felt led to share those things. Yes, I needed to clear out the junk holding me back, but someone needed those messages. I received confirmation of that within hours of the second post. The need to admit disobedience and repent was confirmed over the weekend as well.
There is a level of accountability in confirmation. If I do not receive confirmation, I examine things. I could not get on track with the fast last week. In fat, even my bible study felt hindered. It was day after day of frustration. Since admitting the act of disobedience in my tithe in December and admitting a past sin for what it was…everything fell into place. I am once again gleaning information from the Word. I have been able to work on a book project. I have been able to participate in the fast and focus on the breakthroughs I was claiming before the fast started. Confirmation is powerful. It is also necessary for growth.
If we are obedient to God, pray, fast and get in the Word breakthroughs are going to happen. The breakthrough may not be what we asked for or it may look different from what we imagined. God gives good gifts and he is going to give us what we need before he grants us what we want. Encapsulated in two blogs last week was the key to a break through I did not even know I needed. I had asked God for forgiveness, why was it necessary to share it with the world? I promised to be honest in the very beginning of this blog. I have talked about the blessing of tithing before. I needed to address consequences for disobedience.
We are spirit beings in a carnal world. We are going to trip and fall from time to time. We let our guard down, let doubt or fear slip in and suddenly there is a disconnect. Do not let disconnection be your story. Ask the Spirit to convict you of what is standing in the way of your blessing, what is distancing you from God. Then correct it. We are works in progress and we will continue to be works in progress until we are made perfect in Heaven. Be generous with grace and mercy. Love one another and do not be afraid to share your shortcomings along with your victories. In the book of Psalms there are many instances where the chapter starts negative and dark. Then it is like a light comes on and “Oh, yeah I have God’s favor” and the resolution is positive. Remember you have God’s love, mercy and grace. Your war has been won. Remind yourself of that as you face the battles.