A Month Without Affirmation
Have you ever been pinched by the sting of rejection? Have you felt like the predisposition to be rejected is in your bones or knit into the coils of your DNA?
Well, my dear, you are in good company with your other heartbroken, pressured but not crushed, perplexed but not in despair, persecuted but not abandoned, stuck down but not destroyed sisters all over the world.
With a heavy heart, I write:
To all of you who were the last kid picked in gym class.
To all of you who waited for that guy to call you back and were crushed when he never did.
To all of you who have ever been the butt of every joke.
To all of you who cringe when you look at your reflection.
To all of you who have felt invisible, unlovable, and not enough for someone to want to stick around.
To all of you who have experienced rejection from a parent who was supposed to love you unconditionally.
To all of you who have ever thought that if people really knew you, they wouldn't like you.
Sometimes, life just has a way of sucker punching you in your most tender spots and shooting your Achilles heel. I have experienced and known some of these blows that can feel like an F3 tornado sitting in your gut. Even worse, these experiences bury themselves down deep, only to come up years later to throw tomatoes at your identity saying, "I told you so," "Why would he want to date someone like you? Your dad didn't even want you" or "You're never going to overcome this. It's your lifelong struggle."
When the hurts of life hit, my friends are wonderful. They're the classic, romantic comedy-type girlfriends who assure me that I am great, beautiful, and that something awesome is right around the corner, and I do the same for them!
But what about when those gracious words of encouragement are not enough? What about when you have been hit in that same spot one too many times? What if you have pacified those hurts until they have snowballed into something that you can no longer handle on your own?
I am a huge words of affirmation person. I thrive on encouraging words. Recently, however, I realized that words of affirmation have moved out of simply being blessings to something that I need. Someone made a comment that hit a lifelong wound and crushed me. My friends assured me that it wasn't true and that I was taking it the wrong way and believing lies about myself.
Their words made me feel better but only for a short time. Affirmation from people seems to have an expiration date. It works for a while, but like putting a band-aid on an open wound, it just covers things up instead of healing the problem.
This realization started me on my month-long journey of a much-needed identity change. Psychologists say that it takes about twenty-one days for a new habit to form, so I was giving it a whirl. What did I have to lose? I needed to take a sabbatical from the temporarily soothing words of affirmation in order to hear the tender whispers of the Lord.
Feeling ugly was remedied by putting on makeup and fixing my hair. Feeling invisible was solved by getting more "likes" on social media. Feeling deeply flawed was fixed by turning to my friends to assure me that I am wonderful. But, it just wasn't working anymore. So, I started this pilgrimage.
I stayed off social media, avoided mirrors, and turned to earnest prayer instead of iMessage when insecurities popped up. My month in Bolivia was the perfect setting for this journey. We lived in the desert -- think miles of sand and cacti, no indoor plumbing, home on the range where the skies are not cloudy all day.
And so it began. The desert came for me, and I was prepared for battle. Just as Moses, Elijah, David, and Jesus spent an immense time of solitude in the wilderness, so did I. Every spare moment, I was at the feet of Jesus. Everything I faced, I soaked in prayer with the opposite. The enemy can't attack what isn't there, so I prayed the opposite blessing against every lie and trial.
I felt the withdrawals from the lack of affirmation, and my emotions weren't immediately satisfied by the Word and prayer. I knew from my time of following Jesus, however, that this transition period was the very time that I needed to hold on tightly. The in-between time is when so many of us give up -- those moments between planting the mustard seed and waiting to see the first bloom.
For hours a day, I kept sowing, thanking, praying, and reciting His powerful word. The will comes first; then, the mind; and finally, the emotions, but His Word and His promises never fail, ever.
After days of pushing through when it seemed as though nothing was happening, a blossom sprang forth. There was no burning bush or bolt of lightning, but a difference was there. The month is over, and I'm not quitting with these truths. I'm fighting through until I know that these words are ingrained into who I am. I still love affirmation, but I don't need it to feel fulfilled.
Let's fight this, ladies. Life and death is in the power of the tongue, and the Word of God is sharper than a double-edged sword. Take these words and promises and make them your own. Say them aloud, and claim your territory. Here are some verses to begin with. You know your own battle. Look up verses for whatever your issue is, and speak them aloud.
- I am His masterpiece created in Christ Jesus for good works, which He prepared for me ahead of time (Ephesians 2:10).
- I am precious in The Lord's sight. I am honored, and He loves me (Isaiah 43:4).
- I am more precious than rubies (Psalm 31:10).
- The Father loves me and calls me His child (1 John 3:1).
- He has plans to prosper and not to harm me -- to give me hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
- I am a lily among thorns (Song of Songs 2:2).
- I am part of a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, and a people chosen for His possession that I may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called me out of darkness and into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).
- I have not been given a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7).
- I am a new creation. The old has passed away, and new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17).
- I have been created beautiful with no imperfections. (Song of Songs 4:7)
- God Himself created my inward parts and knit me together in my mother's womb. I will praise Him, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. His works are wonderful (Psalm 139:13-14).