My mind has recently been changed on a technique for improving how a person thinks about and talks to themselves. In previous times I thought affirmations were silly. Standing in front of the mirror saying things about myself I didn’t believe felt like a lie and totally ridiculous. Every time I tried I would have “Cool Runnings” flash backs, and give the whole thing up as insane.
I was fortunate enough, however, to attend one of Leslie Householder’s classes at the American Night Writers Association’s Time Out for Writers conference. There were two game changing things that I took away from that class: 1. Faith (which I knew was any action word) can be applied as behaving as if the blessings in which we stand in need, have already been given to us, and 2. Write your affirmations down and read them every day.
The second change was such a, “duh, why didn’t I think of that,” alternative to a daily mirror narrative that I came home, and within the next two days had covered the wall next to my computer with half sheets of card stock that said things like, “I exercise every day,” and “I am a best-selling and beloved author!” Those papers are there every day conveying to me that my goals and dreams are reality in the formative stages, and one day I will able to say those things with verity and conviction.
The first idea, the one about faith, took a few days to digest. At first it seemed like the height of hubris to behave as if the Lord had already given you everything you want, but then I got to thinking about what the Lord can do. Which is everything. And if we really believe that the Lord can do all things, and if we are keeping our hearts in line with his will for us, then we can assume, based on his promises, that everything we need will be taken care of, that solutions to difficulties that arise will present themselves, and that while the Lord will allow us to meet with trials He is not their author.
Operating in this kind of paradigm also means looking at gratitude differently. If we are living as if the blessing to come are present already, then don’t we need to come to the Lord in gratitude for that which will be. It’s made my prayers take on a new quality. And as is typical to me, has added a whole new level of guilt to my tendency to worry and fret over everything. This morning I found this quotation from C. S. Lewis, “Some people feel guilty about their anxieties and regard them as a defect of faith, but they are afflictions, not sins.” I’ve always thought that having faith meant not worrying about most things, because you believed the Lord had a plan for you and everything would work out as long as you were doing your best. The story of Job doesn’t exactly jive with that notion. Anyway, Lewis goes on to say, “Like all afflictions, they are, if we can so take them, our share in the passion of Christ.”
So I’m trying to breathe through the anxiety, read and live my affirmations, and let go of the guilt. Also humming, “Three Little Birds” helps.