Those were the Days, & so are These
A few years ago I was introduced to Affirmation Circles. If you’re not familiar with the term, let me explain: you sit in a circle and tell people what you like about them. Really complicated stuff. It’s a little (a lot) “Kumbaya” but I’ll be honest, I loved it. There’s nothing better than having people just tell you what they think you’re good at.
I’m not sure how, but four years ago my team sat in a silo and one by one we went around and gave everyone affirmation. Like really nice things. I ate it up. When it got to me, I could have cried at all the nice things they said. They talked about what a great person I was, and how nice I was, and I was different than they expected. How I made them feel warm and was inviting but was also honest.
People who had known me a few short months sat around a silo and told me how much they liked me. They were telling me what I wanted to hear and it was perfectly worded and crafted in such a way that it felt really good. And it took me a long time to realize that all the things they said were just this glimpse I was giving them. I wasn’t faking it.
They just didn’t really know me then.
Honestly, I didn’t really know me then.
They said what they said because they had known me just long enough for me to appear to be all the things I wished I was.
A week ago I sat around a table with friends and ate cookie cake and we had a long over-do Affirmation Circle. Friends who knew me, knew my heart, knew my journey. And they told me a lot of things. It was all edifying and most of it was affirming, but it didn’t come in the pretty package like it did from the strangers in the silo. It was truth spoken in love and grace wrapped with warmth. It was real and it was hard, and I cried because my heart really needed to hear those things.
"When we do the hard, intimate work of friendship, we bring a little more of the divine into daily life.” – Shauna Niequist
When we live life with people, it’s not wrapped with a pretty bow. It’s messy, but it’s worth it.
A few weeks ago Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao made headlines as they stepped into a ring for The Fight of the Century. Mayweather won (spoiler alert), but reports have now come out that Pacquiao was actually injured earlier this year. He never told anyone about his injury before the fight. But it didn’t take long for those old unhealed injuries to resurface (4 rounds to be exact. That’s right, I Skimm).
I think that’s how we all are. We all go into the ring with a beat up shoulder, a busted lip, or some sort of brokenness we didn’t have when we started. Sometimes life makes us hard and we don’t want anyone to know. We sign up anyway because we think it’s just healed enough for us to make it.
But staring into the faces of those friends it was clear that I wasn’t hiding my busted shoulder from them. They weren’t fooled by the big gloves I was putting up to block my heavy heart.
When we try to do it on our own, we realize pretty quickly we can’t. We’re in the ring, but we're not winning. The Lord gives us people along the way who can stand in our corner and whisper the truths you need to hear because they're watching your battle. They're cheering so hard for you. And we need to start believing them. We have to fight for the people who’ll stand in our corner. We need to find the people who aren’t fazed by our glossy exterior. The ones who are on our team, who speak truth and life when the going gets tough.
Find those people and fight for them.