Post Mothers’ Day: Reflections on Imperfect Affirmations

I had a nice Mothers’ Day. But it wasn’t perfect. My husband is good about realizing I have expectations that don’t naturally occur to him. So he usually asks me what I need on a given day to have my needs and desires met. I told him what was important to me, and he was glad to give me what I needed. He loved and affirmed me and all I do for our boys. That was meaningful. Yet, at the end of the day, it didn’t meet my deepest needs for affirmation.

I have learned with time and maturity that, generally speaking, I have a black hole of need in my heart. At holidays, on date nights, on vacation, with my husband, with my children, with extended family, with friends. I have needs beyond anyone’s earthly ability to fulfill.

Holidays, birthdays, and so forth can have the exact opposite of their intention (a special day to recognize someone) if our expectations of the day are too high. Expect or need nothing from the day, and everything else will be a blessing. That’s great advice, but how do you get to that place? How do you expect or need nothing from someone?

Many years ago, I heard Beth Moore say something along the lines that the Spirit is the one to fill us to the very top. He is the sustenance, and everything else is only sprinkles on top. You can’t live without sustenance. But sprinkles you can. If you get sprinkles and sustenance backwards, you’ll never be satisfied. Envision yourself trying to fill up on sprinkles from a shaker meant to decorate cupcakes. That’s us when we look to people or days to meet needs in us that are black holes only filled by an eternal, supernatural God.

I’ve thought lately how my husband’s love is like a fine glass of wine. It’s an enjoyable blessing when I am fully sated after a meal of steak. But if I’m starving, wine can’t provide the sustenance I need. Mother’s Day this year didn’t meet my deepest need for affirmation, but I was able to receive from my family what they imperfectly gave me. That is a sweet gift of God’s grace. He supernaturally meets me in my deepest longings, and then, and only then, can I fully enjoy the secondary blessings from my family.

I shared this with another friend, and she responded, “That’s the essence right there – to be able to receive from our family and friends what they imperfectly give us knowing it won’t meet our deepest needs for affirmation, but we know the One who will.” It’s amazing to me how wonderful the blessings, the sprinkles if you will, have turned out to be once I stopped grasping for them in an effort to get them to meet such deep seated needs in my heart.

I never tire of reading Psalms 73’s answer for this deep, very real longing in our hearts.

1 Truly God is good to Israel,     to those who are pure in heart. 2 But as for me, my feet had almost stumbled,  my steps had nearly slipped. 

… 21 When my soul was embittered,  when I was pricked in heart, 22 I was brutish and ignorant; I was like a beast toward you. 23 Nevertheless, I am continually with you;     you hold my right hand. 24 You guide me with your counsel,  and afterward you will receive me to glory. 

25  Whom have I in heaven but you?  And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26  My flesh and my heart may fail,  but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. … 

28 But for me it is good to be near God; I have made the Lord God my refuge, that I may tell of all your works.

7 Responses to Post Mothers’ Day: Reflections on Imperfect Affirmations

  1. Anonymous May 28, 2012 at 8:08 pm #

    thanks I know exactly what you mean and it is hard to be a mom and keep focusing on Christ for all the details you have to attend to.

  2. Karon May 28, 2012 at 11:45 pm #

    I have struggled for much of my life with high expectations that have resulted in major disappointments. I loved the sprinkles and sustenance analogy. Thank you for the reminder of where and in Whom I should be seeking my sustenance.

  3. Aimee Byrd May 29, 2012 at 11:22 am #

    Your verse from Psalm 73:25 reminds me of what Peter said when Jesus asked the 12 if they were going to leave like the rest of the disciples: “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also, we have come to believe and know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” ( John 6:68).

  4. Ann Sandifer May 29, 2012 at 2:44 pm #

    Thank you Wendy for the encouragement, the sprinkle analogy, and the precious reminder from Psalm 93 that the Lord God is our portion! Only if we allow and expect the Lord to be, can we see and sense that He is our ALL. Those are sweet times indeed when we know and bask in our true and lasting Satisfaction, in the Savior. He is our Great Reward!

    What an excellent visual picture of trying to fill ourselves up from the sprinkles in a shaker, and falling short of that filling and satisfying with the stuff and fluff of this world, even dear relationships. Looking forward to using that example with others!

    This makes me think of your interpretation of Gen. 3:16 and our inappropriate desire for our husbands. Must confess I'm often looking for the sprinkles from others (as Karon says, high expectations, much disappointment) when it's the sustenance and refreshment of our Father through His sweet and gentle Spirit within that I desperately need to seek and expect with ALL that is within me, and to do so continually. Giving thanks for your encouragement to do so.

    Have never thought of expressing gifts including affirming words from others as “imperfect affirmations,” yet we are imperfect beings indeed, so often failing each other in many ways. It makes me ponder on how many times and ways I've failed others. But our God is EVER faithful! Rejoicing that His goodness is EVER before our eyes! He is our precious and perfect Gift from above. Being reminded that God is the only one to give perfect affirmation helps me put MUCH in perspective.

  5. Wendy May 30, 2012 at 5:51 am #

    Thanks, all, for your feedback. I hope no one feels rebuke for having a need. The need is inevitable! But where do we turn when the need manifests itself? That's the question for which God Himself is the only sustaining answer.

  6. Sarah June 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    I had been “saving” this post in my google reader until I could spend time and think through it as I read. God totally used it in HIS timing, I read it yesterday, on my wedding anniversary. My day went so well – because the Holy Spirit provided this post as a “check” for me: My sustenance/satisfaction comes from Jesus.

    Thank you for writing.

  7. Melody Harrison Hanson June 1, 2012 at 10:24 pm #

    I have such a black hole in my heart. I will have to come back to this post againt.