It’s graduation season. You might be picking up gift cards and browsing future planning books to gift the graduate in your life. They’ll appreciate those.  But what if you could give something more? Something that won’t run out of uses over time.

Jody Noland, founder of Leave Nothing Unsaid considers herself an ambassador for “eulogizing the living.”  She teaches people to display and name our feelings toward loved ones, affirming them while we have the opportunity. Of course we’re all accustomed to deliver love letters and last words to those on the brink of death. But she says that’s not enough. She incites young and old alike to speak affirmations into one another’s lives today.

When someone does something for us, it’s easy to appreciate them. At a momentous accomplishment, we celebrate with our presence. But how good are we at giving affirmation to the person for his or her special qualities, outside of the act that’s been done or the moment being shared?

This is important because “when you’re inside the jar, you can’t read your own label. So often we can see qualities in people we love that they cannot see in themselves. Sharing those words brings them to life,” said Jody Noland.

Dennis Rainey expressed similar sentiments in his book The Forgotten Commandment: Experience the Power of Honoring Your Parents. He advocates for writing tributes, specifically to your parents, to express gratitude for their many sacrifices and years of support.

Noland agrees that writing blesses the writer as well as the reader. Consider their suggestions when you’re ready to craft letters of affirmation that can speak an important legacy into the lives of new graduates.

How to write an affirmation

1. Make a list of who you’d like to write to. This isn’t only an idea for grads. You can deliver this gift to many in your life on various occasions.

2. Once you’ve settled on the recipient, list the qualities you want to affirm. Keep the list of affirmations positive and very sincere, focusing on the person’s wonderful characteristics and wiring.

3. Decide when you’d like to share the letter. The letter can tie in nicely with special events (graduations, weddings) or holidays (Mother’s Day, Father’s Day).

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How not to write an affirmation

1. Don’t use the affirmation letter as a medium to apologize or correct. Focus on affirming characteristics you see and ways you’ve observe God use the person’s gifts.

2. Don’t strive for a certain length. “People who have trouble writing think they won’t be eloquent, but that doesn’t matter,” Noland said. “People just want to know they’re loved and valued.”

3. Don’t avoid people who are difficult to write. “Those are usually the people who need it the most,” she said.

Communicating to the people we love in an affirming way is vital to the health of our relationships. Try it for an upcoming special event in your family’s life or just to speak like in affirmation to someone on any regular day. It will be a memorable way to honor someone.


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