And when necessary, use words
“Encourage one another and build each other up.” 1 Thess. 5:11
Steve and I encourage our children to hand write affirmations to their siblings and other family members on birthdays and during times of difficulty with another. When we first began this practice, it was like pulling teeth to get them to lovingly participate. There were sighs, a plethora of avoidance behaviors (suddenly “remembering” unfinished homework, wandering aimlessly around the house looking for an eraser that “doesn’t smudge,” etc.).
But once someone reads their note or once we’re all gathered at the party and it’s time to read aloud to their grandfather or aunt, you’d never imagine they had hesitated for a second! Each child clamors to be first to share what is so wonderful, so cherished about this other person. The room is filled with tears, hugs, gratitude, joy and laughter. It’s so, so special. These are memories that will be treasured.
Through affirmation, we experience the power of testifying. Of committing to words what we have unexpressed in our hearts. We share specifically, thoughtfully and personally how others have impacted us, in ways they may otherwise never know. We get past the family squabbles and reach that permanent, deep-down family love.
We help others to see the purpose for their lives, how they have brought joy, how important it is that they exist. They see how God has acted in them to spread His joy to others. What a gift!
Do actions always speak loudest?
We often hear quoted, “Preach the Gospel, and when necessary, use words,” as an admonition NOT to use words. But I can think of many times when it is, in fact, “necessary” to use words.
Sometimes using “actions” instead of “words” can be a convenient excuse for the strong, silent types not to have to speak (yes, you, Dads everywhere!). There’s a huge payoff to getting over the shyness, the fear of expressing ourselves badly, or the fear of showing strong emotions or vulnerability.
All kids, mine included, go through stages of insecurity and self-dislike. In such seasons, silence may not make enough of an impact. Or, it may send a message that might be misinterpreted.
Take time to say the words.
Sometimes it’s necessary to say, “I love you.” “God loves you.” “You are important.” “You are irreplaceable.” “I see beautiful things in you.” “I appreciate you.” “God did a great job when He made you.” “I am so glad God gave you to me.” “You bring this, and this, and this to our family.” “Your smile brightens my day.” “You are a good example when you do such-and-such, and I want to say thank you.”
Words like these help us all to believe in God’s goodness and His love for us. They are necessary words. As St. Paul wrote, we are “destined for obtaining salvation,” so let us “encourage one another and build each other up.” (1 Thess. 5:9-11)
Joni Abdalla is co-founder of Wee Believers, wife, and mother of 7.Looking for inspiration “doing” affirmations? Check out our free affirmation printables or follow @WEEBELIEVERS on social media for tips and examples!