Sunday, December 11, 2011

Sources of validation

I heard a few lines about this verse in Philippians the other day, referring to validation:

"We rely on what Jesus Christ has done for us and not on human effort" (3:3).

I think everyone can relate to this at one point in time or another. The need for validation comes in all shapes and forms and can mean something significant or be as insignificant as the desire to feel prideful about oneself.

It didn't really hit me until I heard this how much I rely on validation from others to mark out my worthiness. How successful I am at things, how I look, aspects about my personality, how well I do in school, how my marriage looks to other people. The list goes on. Whether as a conscious effort or unconscious, I strive to meet and exceed expectations not for the sake of meeting a goal, but for the attention and validation I receive from others who notice. For so long I've held this as my plumb line to measure my worthiness as a person and every time someone failed to notice to my hard works and natural abilities, I would sink into this hole of utter despair and confusion. Am I unnoticeable? Do I not deserve other people's attention? Why didn't that stand out, why did I not receive a compliment on that, why do people tend to forget about this and that?

Looking back I can see how my ups and downs reflected when I was praised and when I was criticized or unseen. I put all of my worthiness into the hands of those who have issues of there own, some being the very same issue. I gave my measuring stick to the very people who are fallen, like me. Why do I do that when the One who made me wants me to find validation and comfort and assuredness in Him? One who not only wants me to find those things about myself in Him but wants me to know and enjoy that fact that my worthiness needs only to be measured by God's plumb line, not my own or others.

It's interesting to see how many people have troubles with this, whether they realize it or not. I handed a philosophy paper to my dad the other day to show him the 'A' I received on it, wanting to get that validation. Only instead, I found that my need for validation revealed his need for validation as well. Instead of the praise I was waiting for, I received criticism for the little things that might have been overlooked like a grammar or spelling mistake. Instead of that praise, he persisted to claim how good he was for finding those things and other things along those lines. My heart dropped and I fell into that big opening of despair all over again.

I can't allow myself to put so much expectancy on other people to decide my worthiness, as they will never be able to truly deliver all that my heart desires. Only God can reveal to me my worthiness in Him and make my heart content at all times. If I put that expectancy on people, my entire day, week, year, life will revolve constantly around what other people think of me and all that I do. I won't be living for myself or for God, but for people. Maybe even some people I barely know. What kind of life is that?

Here's another verse that applies to this that's been on my heart this past few weeks: "It is better to take refuge in the Lord, than to trust in man" (Psalm 118:8).

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