I recently read The Morning Miracle and have been attempting to practice it. Hal Elrod names six practices that successful leaders do daily that they ascribe their success to. They are Silence, Affirmation, Visualization, Exercise, Reading, Scribing (or journaling–and yes, that comes out to SAVERS.) I’ve actually been able to stick with the practice so far–I read my Bible, journal some and pray regularly, which equates to Elrod’s “reading, scribing, silence.” Since I walk Roxie most mornings, I count that as my exercise. But “affirmations”….hmmm. Stuart Smalley, anyone?
Affirmations have always seemed cheesy at best, and at worst, a false way of working yourself up to feel good, feeding our own personal narcissism. Can you relate?
But as often the case, that perspective is a corruption of the original purpose of affirmation. In this sinful and fallen world, we actually need to be told that we can be more than the sum of our sin. We need to think about affirmations as reminders to ourselves about God’s objective truth–His truth about who we are…and that always comes in relation to Him.
Affirmations are about taking God’s promises and applying them to ourselves. For example, Jeremiah 29:11 says:
This is a promise from God–a TRUE promise, with no grandiosity or narcissism. To make it an affirmation, I simply reword it and say it back to God:
Yes, this is a lot longer than the original verse, and yes, it includes a lot more material. That extra material is included for my benefit. I’m the one who needs to remember that God wants good for ALL of my life, not just the spiritual part. And yes, they are not words included in this passage. But they are Biblical words. I have been reading through 1 Peter, and may of these words reflect his first chapter especially.
If you’d like to begin incorporating affirmations into your life, here is the key thing: they must feel true to you. There are some great, beautiful and amazing promises in the Bible. But if they don’t touch you at a level below your brain, they’re not the affirmation for you.
“Behold I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?”
Lord, you are doing a new thing in me. Help me to perceive it and steward it so it grows into a strong vine that bears much fruit.
Begin using the affirmation in your daily quiet times. Don’t worry if it doesn’t seem quite right–revise it as you go along, but starting using it immediately. As you use it, you may want to write it out, speak it aloud or repeat it several times internally. Remember the feelings the verse brings up, or the reason why you think this is important. It is key that you connect in some way beyond the words themselves. Being a paraphrase of God’s words, they will always accomplish His purposes, but you can cooperate with him more fully if you stay connected to His truth on as many levels as possible–emotional, intellectual, intuitively, physically.
We’ve made a beginning on this. I hope this practice helps you. I have a feeling we’ll be talking more about this in the coming weeks!