“Hello. My name is Steph Hubach. And I’m an Affirmation Junkie.”
How do I know this about myself? Well, I recognize this because it is far too easy for me to take the words of others to heart—not in the sense of being reflective—but in the sense of allowing them to mold my identity: positively and negatively. In Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, he talks about the different ways people perceive that they are loved by others. Actually, I think the book is pretty insightful, and I would definitely tag myself as someone who has the love language of “words of affirmation.” Maybe your love language is one of the others: acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, or physical touch. That said, I think anyone’s love language also has the propensity to be an idol-making factory. Here’s why. If I not only enjoy affirmation, but need it to forge my identity or validate my value as a person, then I’ve got a problem. In other words, I give it too much power. My love language is more important than God himself.
What does all of this have to do with special needs parenting? Well, if my love language is affirmation, and my idol-making factory is in full swing—how is a negative IEP meeting likely to affect me? Will I take the feedback (constructively given or not) and prayerfully reflect on what is true, what is not—and move forward? Or will it devastate me? If my love language is acts of service, and no one at my church notices my mountain of practical needs, and my idol-making factory is in full swing–how is being forgotten likely to affect me? Will I feel disappointment and loneliness? Or will I become angry and critical? If my love language is quality time with others, and my idol-making factory is in full swing—how is isolation likely to affect me? Will I seek creative ways to engage in mutual relationship? Or will I become demanding of others in the ways I seek respite and time with friends? Need I continue?
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 2 it reads,
Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many people saw the miraculous signs he was doing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all men. He did not need man’s testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man.
Did you catch that? “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them…He did not need man’s testimony about man…” Powerful words to an Affirmation Junkie! It’s not that encouragement isn’t a great thing. It is! I actually believe it is one of the most powerful, positive tools in our human arsenal and one of the least wielded! However, human affirmation is not to be the object of our trust. Did you hear what the Scripture says? “But Jesus would not entrust himself to them…” Jesus entrusted himself—every aspect of his incarnate being—to his Heavenly Father. “He did not need man’s testimony about man.” And neither do you, nor do I. Do you see how freeing this is? How it releases us from being on the yo-yo of the opinions of others?
No matter what your love language is, don’t entrust yourself to words of affirmation or any other human tool of engagement. Entrust yourself to your loving Heavenly Father, who always speaks your love language, and whose love is changeless in the midst of ever-changing circumstances of life.
“My name is Steph Hubach. And I’m a recovering Affirmation Junkie.” Not entrusting myself to man’s testimony about man, because I do not need it. Instead, I am entrusting myself to my Heavenly Father’s changeless, endless love for me today. I cannot imagine a better place to be. Will you join me?