Affirming Our Imperfect Selves

I recently attended a lovely dinner for a group of women in the home of a sweet friend. It was a relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. Everyone chose what she wanted from an assortment of fillings—beans, tomatoes, lettuce, olives, cheese, chicken, and onions—to fill a choice of tasty wraps. Chips, salsa, and wonderful desserts completed the meal. Afterward, Heidi invited us to do the following activity–focused on self-affirmIMG_3848ation.

She instructed us to write the letters of our name on a sheet of paper, in the form of an acrostic, and after each letter to write down an affirmation about ourselves. Along with surprised laughter and a few groans, there were some humorous questions, such as, “Can I change my name?”

Feeling a bit anxious about giving myself affirmations, I hesitated for a few minutes but managed to come up with four words and phrases that began with the letters of my name–JANE.

For the letter J, I wrote down the word Joyful. Then, remembering that I am often joyful—but not always, I modified my affirmation by adding the phrase “joyfully connected to Jesus”. He’s my primary source of joy.

For the letter A, I wrote down the word Adventuresome. Remembering that I’m sometimes fearful, I paused a few minutes, and considered erasing my affirmation. Yet, after reflecting on some of my life experiences and choices, I said, “Yes, I am adventuresome.”

For the letter N, I wrote down the word Non-judgmental. Hmm . . . maybe some people don’t think so, I worried. How can I revise that? This is what I came up with: When I’m aware of God’s grace in my life and his acceptance of me, I’m able to pass that on to others—I’m non-judgmental.

For the letter E, I wrote down this phrase: Eager-to-learn, to grow, and to share. As I reflected on that phrase, I felt confident that it was accurate—not needing to be tweaked.  I’ve always enjoyed learning; I love to share what I’ve learned and to hear about how others are learning and growing.

After we finished the activity, Heidi asked us to share what we had written; then, she encouraged us to take our lists home, post them where we would see them, and read them–every day. As I listened to my friends read their affirmations, I felt awed by the unique, beauty of each woman.

Being the thoughtful person that I am, I wondered why I was so hesitant to define myself as joyful, adventuresome, and non-judgmental. Why did I have to qualify my answers? What I recognized was my wanting-to-be-perfect tendency.

Is it okay for us to embrace our positive attributes even if we do not always live up to them? Of course! Only God is perfect—always good, always just, always faithful, always wise—totally consistent.As we grow in our relationship with him, our positive qualities show up more consistently in our lives. So, we need to accept and affirm them as true.

Every day, whether we are aware of it or not, we give ourselves hundreds of “I am” messages. These messages are based on either truths or lies—reality or fantasy. Either way, our brains are designed so that we fulfill the definition that we choose for ourselves.

In her book, Switch on Your Brain, Dr. Caroline Leaf says, “Thoughts are real, physical things that occupy mental real estate. Moment by moment, every day, you are changing the structure of your brain through your thinking.”

By giving ourselves positive and true affirmations, we increase our ability to live up to them, and this increases our confidence and our faith in what God can do in us and through us.

If you would like to affirm your imperfect self, take a few minutes and do the activity that I earlier described.

  • Using colored pencils or crayons that you like and an attractive sheet of paper, write down each letter of your name. (You don’t have to limit this to your first name.)
  • After each letter of your name, write down an affirmation that you truthfully believe describes who you are–most of the time. If you need help with this, ask a friend to tell you what she or he likes about you.
  • Read your affirmations out loud
  • Share them with someone.
  • Post them some place where you will see them.
  • Read them out loud every day for the next week.
  • Notice any changes in your feelings and behavior.

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