A couple of years ago, I wrote this piece for New Evangelizers. I found the experience to be very rewarding, so I thought I would share it with you again on this Ash Wednesday!
I apologize in advance if someone wiser than I has already come up with this idea and in my ignorance I have now aped someone’s originality.
But a number of years ago, I was introduced to an activity called an “Affirmation Circle.” What happens is that people gather in a circle and one person is chosen. Then everyone in the circle goes around and says at least one thing they like, admire, or generally think is good about that person. The person chosen can only respond, “Thank you.”
I don’t know about you, but I tend not to be a big fan of these touchy-feely exercises. My patience for them is limited. But despite that, I have witnessed the power of this activity.
We often only hear or allow ourselves to hear the negative things about ourselves.
Sometimes we not only have to face our fears, but we have to face our hopes. It is amazing to me how some people never recognized the good effect they are having on others. When I participated, I learned things, surprisingly good things, about myself.
Giving thanks is an essential part of who we are as Christians. I always think of the tenth leper who Jesus healed:
While He was on the way to Jerusalem, He was passing between Samaria and Galilee. As He entered a village, ten leprous men who stood at a distance met Him; and they raised their voices, saying, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!” When He saw them, He said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the priests.” And as they were going, they were cleansed. Now one of them, when he saw that he had been healed, turned back, glorifying God with a loud voice, and he fell on his face at His feet, giving thanks to Him. And he was a Samaritan. Then Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But the nine—where are they? Was no one found who returned to give glory to God, except this foreigner?” And He said to him, “Stand up and go; your faith has made you well.” (Luke 17:11-19)
I cannot tell you how often I go through my life like the other nine lepers, having momentary gratitude and then moving on and forgetting the amazing gifts given to me.
But I don’t want to be that anymore.
So I would invite all of you to join me in The Tenth Leper Lenten Challenge.
You can read the entire article here.