Last week, it was my husband’s 50th birthday!
We have many family traditions revolving around birthdays. First, we start with the ever-popular waking-you-up-in-bed-with-presents custom. Then we have a breakfast choice for the birthday boy on a “You are Special” plate. We almost always have a party of some kind and a more recent idea is for my daughter to bake a special cake (like the one above).
But my favorite birthday heritage is our Affirmation Dinner.
Everyone in my family knows that this is part of being a Young. On your birthday, we will go around and share something to acknowledge the masterpiece YOU are becoming. Eph. 2:10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
So if you are at our house on a birthday, we will eat dinner and then I will say something like, “It is time to affirm the birthday girl (or boy)! Who would like to go first?” Then, someone will begin and everyone will participate going around the table. That is a Young Family Rule! Everyone has to say something!
Here are some questions that we use while affirming others:
Where have you seen God working in that person’s life? What are character qualities that you see in that person? What are three things you love about them? What have they done in the last year that has been a blessing to you? Do you see them changing the world around us, if so, how?
Just answer one of those questions and you are well on your way to an Affirmation Dinner. Now the funny thing is I don’t always like being in the center on my birthday. But I have this friend who insists on a girlfriend get-together to do birthday affirmation and then we do it at home too. So on my birthday, I receive a double-dose of affirmations.
My friend, who initiates these affirmations, has the love language of “Words of Affirmation”. She is literally “loving” me by doing this. For some people, who have this love language, this is the best form of loving to them. There are 5 love languages and if you don’t know yours, you can take this quick test here.
I have asked the Lord why I don’t like them that much. Sure, I like hearing all the good stuff . . . but somewhere down inside, I feel like I don’t deserve it. I squirm a bit. But God reminded me last year that not only is it a blessing to hear the kind words of others that paint a picture of how I am becoming His masterpiece, but it also blesses those that speak it. Encouraging and uplifting is a command in the Bible: 1 Thes. 5:11 encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
The blessing of doing affirmations is found in Hebrews 3:13: But encourage one another … so that none of you may be hardened by sin's deceitfulness.
Did it really just say that if I am not affirming and encouraging others that I might be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness? YES!! So not only is the one that is receiving the affirmations blessed, but the one giving it, too!
So won’t you consider blessing those around you with the words they so long to hear? How can you affirm them on their birthdays or even today with encouragement?