Faith & Affirmation in a Transition

“For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession.”

– Deuteronomy 7:6 NIV

As my mother has watched me interact with my children, including the moments when I correct them, she has affirmed me in how she notices the consistent calm way in which I communicate with them, even during stressful moments of correction, instead of yelling and raising my voice loudly consistently. One day my daughter, now age 11, acknowledged recognition of the fact that I don’t raise my voice when I speak to them. Hearing the compliment from my mother about my progress in disciplining my children was a great source of encouragement for me in my efforts to interact and work with my children. Prior to becoming a parent, I would make mention of the fact that it was important to me to treat my children in the same manner I strove to work with the students I came into contact with as educator in the classroom. To God be the glory for the work of His Spirit in and through me that helps me to model the patience of Christ and allow the fruit of peace to be produced in and through me as I interact with others.

At work, within the past month, I had a professional colleague who came to me and thanked me for the manner in which I have modeled Christ in working with my students that helped her recapture her spiritual/professional equilibrium after a rough period of conflict she was having at work. Our intermittent fellowship with the sharing of God’s word on how to cope during stressful and challenging moments in life affirmed her in her faith walk and she felt compelled to do the same for me for what God did for her through His use of me on her behalf. She mentioned to me the recognition of the calming effect my person has on those I come into contact with when I’m in my classroom that I recognize as the person, presence and power of the Spirit of Christ emanating from within me to affect and influence others around me. She called it a gift, I reminded her it was all God and I could not take credit for the work of His Spirit in and through me that ministers to others. This week, I sent flowers to my sister at work for Mother’s Day. Beyond the fact she is my sister and the mother of two children, I sent the flowers to affirm her because of the intense challenges she faces in the workplace and wanted her to have something positive to happen at work to offset the reality of the negativity she faces day-to-day.

Affirmation says to the recipient, “You are special, significant, valued and appreciated!” How important is affirmation? Enough that God makes use of the principle of affirmation in scripture in how He speaks to His people. “In a desert land he found him in a barren waste and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye.” – Deuteronomy 32:10 NIV This is a verse from a song Moses sang in honor of God’s act in delivering the Israelites from captivity in Egypt. God regards us as the apple of His eye! When He came to Gideon to inform Gideon that He would use him to deliver the Israelites from the oppression of the Midianites, the angel of the LORD greeted Gideon by declaring him to be a mighty warrior. As the disciples continued in their devotion to walk with Christ during His earthly ministry, Jesus declared that He no longer regarded them as servants, but friends.

During the reality of our transition, despite the challenges we face and the changes we go through, the howling, barren waste; God looks to affirm us as He regards us as the apple of His eye and seeks to shield us and care for us. As our heavenly Father, God affirms us in our relationship with Him and models for us how we ought to affirm our children during the process of our transition. Shield them and care for them. Protect them from what will hurt them and not help them grow, mature and become productive adults. Shield them from making negative comments about the other parent. Protect them from being put in the middle. Care for them in a way that affirms them that they are loved, valued, significant, special and appreciated. Communicate with them and speak words of life to them that lift them up and let them know that they will live and not die in the wilderness of this transition as God spoke to the Israelites. Affirm them by acknowledging consistently the positive traits and things they do that validate the uniqueness by which God created them. God affirmed His children by being present with them while they transitioned through the wilderness. Our interested presence invested in time spent with our children affirms them more than our words.

May God bless you and help you to discover innovative and creative ways to implement affirmation in your family as you transition towards resiliency.

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Faith & Affection in a Transition

“All the brothers here send you greetings. Greet one another with a holy kiss.”

– I Corinthians 16:20 NIV

The reality of change, and the transition, is usually associated stress. Surely, the greater the change and the challenges associated with the transition increases the stress level. Reassuring our children they are loved and it is not their fault will go a long way in helping them cope with the transition as we learn to cope as the adult in the transition. Infants and toddlers may not be able to understand cognitively the reality of what is happening during the transition, but they understand hug breaks, gentle kisses, and a tone of voice that makes them feel safe and secure. Author Gary Chapman wrote a book titled The 5 Love Languages and one of the 5 languages of love is physical touch. Understanding communication is both verbal and non-verbal, how can one communicate affection to their child, or children, during a transition that continues to provide them safety and security during a time of change and challenge?

How about a high-five in recognition for the completion of a task? Try giving consistent positive verbal recognition for deeds done to reinforce continued demonstration of positive behavior. “I like the way you chose to use your time to read instead of watching television. Give me a high-five, or hug!” Some people believe picking a child up, giving them hugs spoil the child, but physical touch is a genuine human need. Physical touch validates a person’s physical presence expressing appreciation for them being present in the environment. As children get older it’s possible they receive positive physical touch less and less believing they’re too old for that now. Your teenagers may even say it, but it doesn’t change the fact it is a genuine human need. Some may have never experienced it growing up as a child being hugged or hearing the words, “I love you,” spoken to them. The awkwardness that comes from being able to give it and receive it may make us feel uncomfortable, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is a genuine human need. Children may be young, but they are still human.

The reality of the changes and challenges associated with a transition and the stress that comes along for the ride may create an environment where affection gets put aside, but courage can break the glass and create an atmosphere of safety and security instead of isolation and anxiety. Despite the awkwardness, break the glass, and watch how the physical touch of love and affection can instill safety and security, reducing stress and anxiety for the giver as well as the recipient.

May God bless you and help you to make use of the love language physical touch and affection as you transition towards resiliency.