An introduction and Affirmation No. 1

Enjoy this monthly post by Reverend Patrick Riecke, director, Chaplaincy and Volunteer Services.

Why and how you should use daily affirmations

Recently, research has confirmed that daily affirmations will help you lower your stress and maintain focus.[1] I don’t know about you, but anything that’s free and helps me to lower my stress and maintain focus is worth millions.

I have used affirmations for many years. When I don’t, I feel the effect. My stress level increases and my "crazy" starts to show.

But how do you use affirmations?

You might picture sitting quietly in the dark at the beginning of the day and meditating on an affirmation. That is meaningful, but affirmations can also be powerful at other times. For instance, I often remind myself of the truth that: “All people are a mix of good and bad.” I am sure you can understand the implications for daily remembering this truth. This affirmation bubbles to the surface for me in those times when I am really frustrated with someone. “Remember, all people are a mix of good and bad—there is good in them!”

It also comes to mind when I think someone is just amazing and walks on water. “Remember, all people are a mix of good and bad—they don’t have it as all together and you think.”

In the quiet, yes. But also in the busyness.

It’s as simple as B.S.A. (Just think—Boy Scouts of America).[2]

  1. Breathe deep
  2. Select and Say the truth you need to be reminded of
  3. Allow the truth to shape your reactions and thoughts

Affirmations are a reminder, not a creation of truth

Beginning today, I'm kicking off a new monthly series of affirmations. It’s important to me that you know we are not trying to make something up. And this isn’t quite the same as positive thinking (of which I am also a fan). The daily affirmations in this series are different. Remembering these truths is not a creation of anything. It is a reminder of something that already exists. You aren’t trying to convince yourself. You are reminding yourself.

Make a plan to remind yourself daily of each affirmation.

 

 

Affirmation No. 1

I cannot do everything, | I can do something.

Are you a person who takes on a little more than you can handle? If you are, you and I are in the same boat. I can remember, even as a child, being pleased only when my calendar was full—with activities every single day. However, I cannot do everything. I need a daily reminder.

As a freshman in high school, I joined the marching band. It was a large school and we had a large band. The band was called the Big Orange Pride (BOP) and we had gone to the state finals for 20 consecutive years.

Freshmen in the band had a steep learning curve, and I was no exception. Although I had been a busy young person up to this point, the BOP had even higher expectations. Band camp was one week during the summer. At camp the band practiced, and practiced, and practiced. To my 13-year-old self, it felt like we were practicing 24 hours a day. I played baritone. It’s like a small tuba. Baritones weigh between 8-12 pounds (3.6-5.4 kg). After a few days of holding one constantly, it felt like I was lugging around a baby elephant.

What I didn’t know going into the week was that I was sick—and getting sicker. I thought I simply had some common teenage skin problems on my shoulders. But it was actually an infection. And over the course of the week, the infection entered my bloodstream and I spiked a fever. When I returned home at the end of the week, I collapsed on the couch and fell asleep—the unnatural kind of sleep that comes when a person is more sick that they realize. My mom knew something was wrong and packed me up and took me to the hospital.

What happened after that is foggy at best, but according to my parents it was a near-miss. I could have died from the infection now rampant in my young body.

I was in the hospital for a few days getting IV antibiotics and feeling as terrible as I probably looked. Today, I still bear the physical scars of that experience.

I cannot do everything.

I wish I could say that I learned this lesson at age 13. That I never overestimated my own abilities again. But I could go on to tell story after story of being overcommitted, trying to do too much, paying the price and leaving scars.

Here is an important point: Doing too much usually feels right. Packing our schedules and making more commitments feels like something we should do.

I thought that ignoring my health and continuing to practice during camp was evidence that I was strong. It showed that I was committed. Actually, it showed I was out of touch with the truth.

Early in ministry, I heaped church activities into every day of the week. Even now, when Kristen and I look at our schedules, we sometimes have to tilt our heads sideways to see if it can all fit in.

My daughter is nine years old. With bouncing blonde hair, bright blue eyes, and absolutely no filter, she often makes life more interesting. During the holiday season in 2017 she told Kristen that she wanted to make a difference for people in our community. She decided that she wanted to express appreciation to people who worked at places we frequent—the bank, the store, and restaurants. Specifically, people in lower paying positions. She asked her mom if she would purchase gift cards. Then they could share them with people while they ran errands.

About a week before Christmas, she and I enjoyed lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, just the two of us. It’s our favorite place. In her little hand was one of the gift cards. She had written a small note that thanked the recipient for “helping in our community”. I offered that she could give it to our server, who seemed to also be one of the managers.

She declined.

I thought she was nervous as she looked around the restaurant. But then her gaze whipped back around to me.

“I want to give it to the guy who is cleaning the tables. Because if I had to do that, I would not like it very much,” she said. “I was going to give it to the girl at the desk when we walked in, but she already seemed happy.”

I smiled. Her logic was perfect.

At that moment, the gentleman bussing tables reappeared. A Hispanic man between 50-60 years old, I had to admit that he did not seem as happy as the young hostess.

Kelsey hopped out of her seat and headed straight for this gentleman who was bent over a table, clearing dishes.

The pair was just out of earshot, but her bouncing curls and sparkling eyes told the story. As he took the small envelope from her, his face lit up like a Christmas tree. He straightened up for a moment, then bent over to her and thanked her. It was clear she had brightened his Christmas. My guess is that the value of her kindness meant more to him than the value of the gift card.

Did I mention she is nine years old?

A nine-year-old can’t do everything.

A nine-year-old can do something.

I cannot do everything.

I can do something.

 

Questions for reflection

Many people today are trying to do it all. Are you one of those people?

Is there an area in which you are trying to do too much?

Have you ever given up? Thrown up your hands because you felt you couldn’t do it all? Have you forgotten that doing something can sometimes mean everything to someone?

 

[1] https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201305/do-self-affirmations-work-revisit

[2] As an Eagle Scout, this is an easy way for me to remember BSA.

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