To Give or Not To Give Positive Affirmation

To Give or Not To Give Positive Affirmation-2

I don’t remember if I ever actually took that Love Language quiz but I am 99% sure that my love language is¬†words of affirmation. (love receiving it but still not the best at giving it) I think the need is in my nature mostly but probably also has to do with growing up in an encouraging and affirming environment. (not always unconditional mind you) For good or for bad it kind of created a dependency I suppose. When someone withholds verbal affirmation I feel it deeply. It still makes me feel like a child. My husband is a bit more resilient and I envy him for it. But every now and then I see that inner child looking for approval come out. It’s a part of us all.

All of us were created with some degree of innate need for encouragement and that you-can-do-it voice backing us up. If our childhood is devoid of that kind of moral support it can lead to grave emotional and relational consequences. (The results of which we see a lot here in our work in Honduras.)

I’m an INFP and I’ve mentioned before that I’m a self-diagnosed highly sensitive person so this combination makes me very attuned to which individuals are affirmation-hoarders and which are generous with their praise. Yeah, I see you.

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Emotional withholding is in fact a psychological manipulation tactic. It is one thing to be careless and just not thoughtful in general but it is another thing to intentionally withhold positive speech (an emotional need) in order to a.) punish the receiver or b.) maintain a sense of imagined superiority over them. I would even say, speaking from personal experience, that some of us feel this weird need to determine who actually deserves positive words and who’s “had their fill.” Have you ever felt that sense of, “Well, they sure get enough likes on instagram. I’m not adding to it.”? Kind of silly but I think we’ve all been there.

Sadly, what I’ve noticed is that almost every affirmation-withholder I’ve met did not receive adequate positive affirmation somewhere in their past: from a parent, authority figure, former employer, etc. It’s a cycle. I know that when I feel particularly insecure and in need of verbal affirmation is when I am least likely to give it out to someone else. Those really are my most selfish times, not when I’m at the peak of my confidence. Someone has the break the cycle. And it requires some strength.

I have a couple friends who are literally the best compliment givers. They can cheer a person up in under a minute. Sometimes I’m feeling down and they catch me off guard with their positive outlook. All of a sudden I feel invincible, with my head held high, ready to lavish praise (merited or unmerited) on literally any random person who crosses my path.

Encouragement begets encouragement, and positive affirmation begets positive affirmation. What power we have in our words to create such a ripple effect. It changes the environment around us and truly has a broad outcome even beyond our sphere of influence. As children of God why would we not want to give affirmation freely?

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Paul’s letter in 1 Thessalonians 5:11 says, “…encourage one another and build one another up.” It’s a Christian responsibility! It’s important that we periodically check our hearts and pray like David, “Search me, God, and know my heart. Test my thoughts.” Even when it’s difficult or awkward or “not my style” we can step out of our comfort zone and give positive words of affirmation that someone else might be needing so badly. On the other side of the coin I also think it’s important that we examine ourselves and take responsibility for our own emotions that deep down our identity and security is founded in Christ and not in any human’s words. Working on it. ūüôā

What about you? Are you on the needy end of the spectrum? Do you consider yourself generous with encouragement?

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Blending: Newlywed Daily Life

Today marks four months of marriage. I’m totally counting (and celebrating!) each month but Nat√°n told me just to let him know once we’ve reached a year. *eye roll*

These four months have involved a lot of blending. Blending of two distinct cultures, upbringings, families, personalities, responsibilities, communication styles, general preferences, and expectations. In a lot of ways we had already started some of the blending almost five years ago when we started dating. The fact that I had moved to a new country meant that I was already doing quite a lot of adapting previous to meeting Nat√°n. If I hadn’t been open to a complete cultural change from the beginning there would have been (and would still be) a lot more friction.

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That doesn’t mean I don’t lay down some gringa rules in this Honduran household. 1. Bath and Body Works Wallflowers and candles – this house will smell like a magical garden of magnolia blossom white tea ginger honeysuckle sweet pea, dang it. 2. Decorative pillows are meant to be seen, not touched and certainly not slept on. 3. You can eat your stinky dry cheese all you want but I will keep the fridge stocked with my heavenly cheddar cheese, even if it means splurging a bit at the grocery store. 4. Let me introduce you to a little invention called a coaster. 5. I’m sorry, we’re doing what today? Is it on the family calendar??

He likes to joke that I’m “American-izing” him and my whiteness is rubbing off on him. ūüėČ (you. are. welcome.) Occasionally when he doesn’t want to yield to my really great American idea he claims imperialism. (deep down I know he likes all my ideas)

[One of my ideas is that he will continue to eat fried okra with as many meals as possible until he is as obsessed with it as I am.] 2017-05-02 18.56.45

Contrary to common belief about Latin men being machista¬†he is a wonderful partner who treats me as his equal and willingly shares in domestic responsibilities. I’m so thankful for that. Really, it’s something that attracted me to him from the beginning. I recognized that he knew how to run a household and wasn’t afraid of a broom and dustpan. I’ve learned valuable home skills from him too like how to wash clothes by hand in the pila (outdoor wash basin) and make flour tortillas.

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I can honestly say that nothing has felt more natural than becoming his wife and blending our separate lives together. I halfway expected a big moment of either euphoria or difficulty. Maybe that moment is on its way but so far I can attest that it has just felt right. As a person who thoroughly enjoyed and made the most of¬†singlehood, I now know that I really really enjoy marriage in general and I really really enjoy sharing life with the person I wholeheartedly decided to marry. ‚̧

 

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Mrs. Mart√≠nez got Married on a Monday

It has been about 10 months since I have posted a new blog entry but I am back to announce that Nat√°n and I got married 3 weeks ago on the dreamy island of Roatan, Honduras!! All I have to say is that we are loving married life and are in the preparation stage of a new ministry opportunity (that we’ll share soon) aaaannnddd are still just oogling over our photos from David D√≠az Photography:

Life is Best Lived Offline

I am taking a little break from Facebook. I kinda decided this a few weeks ago but it was one of those passing thoughts that I tried to ignore. I referred to the fact that social media often takes the intentionality out of real-life relationships, in a recent tumblr post.

Life is Best

I avoided doing this until one thing after another kept coming up like a slap to my face and I gave in. I’ve read several articles recently about “turning off the technology” and it has really convicted me. One interesting info graphic I saw today that depicted the pros and cons of social media, showed that “39% of Americans spend more time socializing online than face to face.” Well, starting now that statistic can drop 0.000007% because I intend to be more intentional and personal.

I want to be fully present in every moment (thank God I don’t have an iPhone, I’d be in trouble) and not miss out on opportunities and deeper relationships that are right in front of me. This isn’t a long-term commitment, really I don’t even know if it will last a couple weeks or for a while, but I am going to lay off of social networking (other than this blog… & maybe twitter) until I become less dependent. Especially during this time of my life – I have so many other things to focus on and to put effort into.

Until then, check here (my fabulous new blog site, thanks to the wonderful Lauren!) for updates and/or get in touch with me the old fashioned way. I don’t know, be creative.

Life Update / Living Good Stories

I try to only blog when I feel that I really have something worthwhile to say. Then I become hyper-critical and never want to post anything for fear that it might only be rambling. If anything gives me the motivation and courage to write it’s a Donald Miller book. (or blog entry) I just finished A Million Miles in a Thousand Years and it inspired me. Not just to write more freely and more often but to live more intentionally.

There will probably come a time later when I will post an excerpt or quote from him. I am still chewing on what I read. The tagline of the book is “how I learned to live a better story.” Beautiful. The name of my blog,¬†Add to the Beauty, comes from a Sara Groves song that says, “Redemption comes in strange places, small spaces, calling out the best of who we are. And I want to add to the beauty. I want to tell a better story.”

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Right now I am sitting in my friends’ house in East Tennessee. Summer has come early and we have no AC. (along with a handful of other minuscule household crises… enough to make me feel like I am in a third world country again) Last night, as the three of us girls all sat on the floor, (of the bedroom that will soon hold my bed) melting from the heat of this oven-house, we found ourselves reflecting through giggles and welled-up tears on how fortunate we are for the opportunity to be living such a magnificent story.

I’ve never blogged in detail about the ministry in which I got involved during college but you can read about it in two specific past entries: Josh & Laura and my friend’s graduation speech. Those who are close to me know how drastically my life, or “story” if you will, has been forever altered by the relationships I have formed through my involvement with the mentoring/tutoring program, Backyard Ministry. Even while I was living in Panam√° doing missions work, I longed to be back in this tiny little Southeast U.S. town with the kids, families and friends I loved.

* In short, about a year ago, my friends moved into the neighborhood where we had been investing a lot of time and prayer during our college years – mentoring kids, helping with homework, ESL classes, etc. Over the last three months I have spent a pretty good amount of time here as I worked doing freelance video editing. After confirming consistent work through the summer, I made the (semi-) permanent move back. I couldn’t have been more thrilled!

Even in the midst of the hustle and bustle of our busy lives, my roommates and I will often just stop and smile and say things to each other like, “this is the best life,” or “there’s nothing better than this.” These acknowledgements usually come after moments like pulling into the driveway and being greeted at our car door by a group of children calling our names. Or receiving hugs and handmade cards on our birthdays. Or when we overhear a child refer to us as their “best friend” when talking to someone.

Despite some of the uncomfortable or inconvenient conditions in which we occasionally find ourselves living… we are living a better story than we could possibly imagine living anywhere else. I wouldn’t trade this for the best central air conditioning system or fully functioning bathtub drain in the world.