A few weeks ago my father shared a sentiment that he would rather my siblings and I were driven by the affirmations God offers than those he might offer. So he was going to offer fewer verbal affirmations in hopes that we might turn more to God for a pat on the back or word of encouragement. Asi lo entiendo yo. And la verdad is that I struggle to accept this. I thought, "wait a minute, I struggle enough with not feeling good (read: affirmed) about what I do and now I am going to receive even less affirmation??" I think that was his point. And ever since I have been wondering if I am too dependent on the affirmations of others. Do I listen for God's affirmations enough that God might fill that seeming void in my life?
I was struck from the other side last week in talking with a congregant who is struggling in a spiritual desert and also struggles with issues of self-esteem. I shared that I too struggle with self-esteem and that the incarnation has been the most profound theological idea that speaks to me--God values me (US) so much that God was willing to come in the most fragile human form and entrust God's self to our care. Not only does God love me but God TRUSTS me. Two pretty distinctive ideas in my mind....and ever since I gained a little clarity about the incarnation, it has been my theological stronghold. All that is lead in back to the issue of affirmations, because after I shared this with the congregant he said he was surprised that I struggle with self-esteem issues and that when I got a full ovation from our english congregation after my first sermon that I "must have felt pretty good about [myself]". And it hit me: it was nice to receive applause, but I doubt the sincerity of it, the value of it, and there was the other side of my coin....I want and crave affirmations, and yet more often than not, when they come, I led them slide right off...
So, this year, I think it is high time that I truly allow the crucifixion and resurrection speak to me and God's affirmation of my life, of all of our lives, and maybe I will be less reliant on those words of others.
As a side note, I regularly read JT's blog and ran across this quote as I caught up: (I thought it applied...)
if the examination of our life is rooted in the world rather than the Spirit we will find that we are examining ourselves according to the world’s standards. We will be mired in the world’s standards of success. We will be trapped by the world’s standards of life and wealth. The world’s standards are at odds with God’s standards. To examine our life according the world’s standards rather than the Spirit’s grace we will be rendered a hollow shell, perhaps beautiful on the outside, but empty on the inside.