The Learning Curve of Validation

photo credit: Hollywood Sign (Vintage) via photopin (license)
photo credit: Hollywood Sign (Vintage) via photopin (license)
I have found myself, this week, smack dab in the middle of a learning curve. These particular weeks are not a favorite. As I referenced in my previous blog, time at the cabin affords me the privilege of ruminating more than usual…which is a lot, because anyone who has even remote contact with me knows this mind is rarely settled.

After my last post, I engaged in what is known as a vulnerability hangover (Brene Brown). I know honestly is usually the best policy, but really? This writing business has taught me so much about myself. And while I love it and am so grateful it has found me and I answered the call (after about 23 years of denial), it is not without its fair share of nerve-wracking doubt.

I have learned this week that I am a validation whore. Forgive me for the crass terminology, but it cannot be spun any more delicately. I daily am tempted to do and say things to be approved, validated, as my main motivation. Am I alone? Surely not.

Feedback is critical, we need it for checks and balances. When the reaction you receive is horror, or a mild head nod, or maybe snoring, feedback is important. Constructive criticism is beneficial. Accountability is essential.

The question remains for me, however, what do I say, write, do because it gains me approval? How much does this truly motivate me? I didn’t realize the force of this until this week. While I’m deeply humbled by the answer to this, I am grateful for the revelation. Will I be free, ever? Probably not, just like anyone who produces, creates, or serves. I know I need my trusted people. The ones who will tell me like it is, but who will also give me far more grace than I ever can or will.

Here are a few bits I am learning through this process. Hopefully some will resonate with you.

The longing for validation is not a measure of God’s love for me. It is my human-ness, ego, the basest part of me. It is the clutching of my shallow heart, the sugar, the quick energy, a pop to lighten the weight of mundanity. Akin to when I eat, because I’m bored or sad or anxious. If I was truly needing sustenance I’d eat a somewhat balanced meal. It’s a quick rush to quell the discomfort. Guzzle a shot of Facebook, a handful of Twitter, or a sneak of WordPress stats to provide a break, a fix. Anything to transport away if even for the briefest of moments.

What is it I’m really reaching for? Belonging, hope, recognition, worth. It’s already mine. I get to claim all of this because I’m made in God’s image, created by Him/Her. I fail to believe this because my feet get stuck in the muck of this world, while my hands reach, ever so higher, yearning for more.

Until I move to the next life, whatever that is, I’m not sure this wrestling will abate. Of course it will ebb and flow, that’s normal, depending on my security levels. But I can do the work of seeing honestly, providing relief, loving, offering gratitude.

We are all looking to leave our mark. Some of us have loftier goals than others, but it still means we want to be noticed, recognized, approved. We want significance. I think we are designed for this, truly, by God. But we mishandle it by looking to the cheap, rather than the lasting, the weighty. The work is to uncover our true need, our true desire rather than settling for the masking imposters. I can eat ice cream all day for years. I’ll have the calories to sustain my being, but ultimately I will pay a price. What price are our souls paying when we settle for cheap shots of approval? Social media validation, relying upon the shifting preferences of people will only let me down. Look at the train wreck of many lives in our celebrity culture. It’s no different for me.

We have to learn to take a longer, harder view of what truly satisfies:

Working toward justice, alleviation of suffering, joining in the pain of another, living more simply, asking hard questions, setting a new goal and working daily to achieve it, creating.

Jesus is the answer leaves me with more questions.

Let go and let God  makes me want to cling tighter to what I want.

The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it makes me want to throw my blessed Bible across the room. Who can understand even a quarter of it without having a doctorate in theology?

God doesn’t give us more than we can handle makes me want to holler from the rooftops BULLSHIT! We get all kinds of impossible, hard things. It’s a miracle people don’t crumble under the weight on a daily basis. Is He/She with us? Absolutely! Do we feel it? Nope. Sometimes. Yes.

These pat answers do more harm than good. Personally, I would rather us have more questions than answers, to keep us humble, connected, seeking, yearning.

We all want to matter. We all want to be told You are so beautiful, I love you. You’re good, please stop trying so hard. May we look to those who love us, without condition. May we turn to Hope, to Rest, to Renewal and Grace. May we rest in the knowledge that we are precious, desired, whole already.

Made in the image of our Creator, having achieved all the validation we could possibly imagine.