An Unassuming Affirmation

An Unassuming Affirmation

A few years ago I attended a retreat where I journeyed with a small group of women on a 3-day experience. At the end of the retreat, we were instructed to share a word or phrase that we felt described each other. I find these activities annoying; nevertheless, I participated. We were instructed to listen to our personal affirmations and only respond with a polite, “Thank you”. Don’t get me wrong; I get it. Many of us are not used to hearing nice things and this can be a deeply moving experience.

I still get annoyed; hopefully I hid it well.

As we moved around our little circle of affirmations, nice things were said about other girls such as: “you are a faithful woman of God” or “you speak with integrity” or “you are so beautiful inside and out”.

When it was my turn the first person to say anything uttered, “unassuming”.




Could it be that my demeanor ratted me out? Was I that bad of a table buddy? Did this person think that little of me?

The others at the table were also a little shocked at the ‘affirmation’ so the ‘affirm-er’ offered an explanation. She said that I was quiet but when I did speak I had something concrete and helpful to offer. I wasn’t pushy but sat back and allowed others to talk first. When time for meals, I was the last in line. etc., etc., etc.

I accepted the affirmation with my polite, “Thank you”, and we moved on.

Now, while this may sound like sweet humility. It’s not. It’s a sign that my introversion is showing.

Introverts often have a difficult time in new social situations. We tend to sit on the sidelines and watch how things are playing out before engaging. We are internal processors which can be frustrating in small groups with facilitators who are uncomfortable with silence and move on before we get a chance to share our well thought-out answers. We tend to avoid small talk whenever possible. Just thinking about it makes me anxious… and, annoyed.

[These can also be good qualities when self aware and balanced.]

When I got home from the retreat I was still bothered by the ‘affirmation’ and looked the word, “unassuming” online.

  • definition: not pretentious or arrogant; modest.
  • synonyms: modest, self-effacing, humble, meek, bashful, reserved, diffident; unobtrusive, unostentatious, low-key, unpretentious, unaffected, natural, unpresuming

Okay. I can live with that.

During my research I found something even cooler; something that tied me in a unique way to my husband.

As I mentioned in a past blog entry, my husband is a permanent deacon in the Catholic Church. He was ordained on May 26, 2017.

Now, here comes the cool part:

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The Rite of Ordination to the Diaconate includes the following words in the prayer of consecration which is prayed over the candidate by the bishop:

  • “May he excel in every virtue: in love that is sincere, in concern for the sick and the poor, in unassuming authority, in self-discipline, and in holiness of life.”

The bishop called upon the Holy Spirit to help my husband to be a man of “unassuming authority” as he serves in his ministry!

After reflecting upon the definition I could easily see that my husband, Jerry, was already unassuming. He is one of the most humble men I know and has the true heart of a servant. On his ordination he receive special graces to increase that virtue.

Looking back, I realize what a beautiful affirmation my table buddy uttered on my behalf, and I am humbled that this virtue is something Jerry and I share.

How cool is that?!

Now, if I said I was now proud of being unassuming… would I no longer be?

Hmmm… Something to ponder along the way.

Please pray for me as I pray for you.

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