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The Affirmation Mirror

Photo: Hazel Pulliam and Eva-Elizabeth Chisholm flash their smiles between acts at L’Arche’s annual talent show. Photo courtesy of Hazel Pulliam

Affirm: 1 a : validate, confirm b : to state positively; 2 : to assert (as a judgment or decree) as valid or confirmed; 3 : to express dedication to

We start many meetings in L’Arche with a time of sharing and affirmation. It’s one of the things I appreciate most about meetings because we’re making an intentional statement that building one another up is important. Sometimes the time is pretty quiet, and I’ll admit that there are days when I don’t find anything to say. That challenges me because I don’t want to share things that are superficial or trivial, but I know that the people I share life with bring so many gifts with them to community and those gifts need to be called forth.

On April 17 the community affirmed me in my new role as Service Team Leader. As members from both houses in Arlington shared words of wisdom (mixed with a lot of laughter and silliness), I found myself feeling a bit more at ease about taking on this new role.

One group led us in a song with the lyrics, “Thank you God for (insert name) (insert gifts we see in that person).” We went around the entire room, naming the gifts we see in each individual.

One person commented, “When I hear someone else identify a certain gift, it’s like they’re giving me a different set of eyes and a new appreciation for that person.” It helps to have twenty-plus pairs of eyes and it helps when each of us shares what we see.

Affirming someone is taking time to speak truth into their lives, to serve as a mirror on the days when they might not be able to see themselves as they were created to be. When others affirm me it’s a bit like receiving a verbal hug. I’m really good at critiquing myself, correcting little mistakes, expecting perfection. As people called out different gifts they see in me, I was blessed with all those pairs of eyes helping me to take a good look at the reflection before me.

Eva-Elizabeth Chisholm joined L’Arche in 2011 after completing her Master of Social Work at the University of Louisville. In April 2012 she stepped in to the role of Service Team Leader at the 6th Street home, providing support to the assistants as they ensure L’Arche complies with its obligations under Medicaid Waiver and local contracts. Life in 6th Street and in community continues to surprise daily, and to serves as a reminder that bringing our full self is one of the greatest gifts we can both give and receive.

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