“Have you been validated?” The question felt more than a little intrusive coming from a waitress bringing us eggs. How did she, a random waitress, know the depths of my insecurities and desperate hunt for validation?
It turns out she was talking about parking. Upon moving to San Diego, we entered a whole new world in every way, including parking. When parking in a mall or shopping center’s provided parking structures, one is expected to bring a small card to a small machine in said mall to prove that one was, indeed, at said place for said time.
This whole parking validation world was new to me; unfortunately, what was not new to me was my deep need for validation. If only one could validate one’s being by inserting a card into a machine.
The word validate literally means to make valid and comes from the Latin word valere, meaning to be strong, to be well, to be worth. Every human, like every parking pass, it seems, needs validation.
We seek for validation in countless avenues. Some travel the road to fame and fortune in search for validation, others strolls streets of significance. Still others loiter on relational lanes seeking worth and worthiness. Whether we are looking for validation in a paycheck, a marriage license, a report card, a pant size or the result of an interview, the hunger is the same: to be measured and found ample and important, needed and necessary.
I know the right answer: the ultimate source of validation comes from God alone, through grace alone and by faith alone in Christ. Yet, I find myself vying for validation from my friends and family, my chores and checks, and even from my ministry.
My response to such a deep hunger to be validated, even as a believer, used to secretly sound something like this: “What is wrong with you? Don’t you know that you have been validated by Christ’s victory on the Cross? You have His approval. He determines your worth.”
While I still testify to those timeless truths, the tone has begun to change over time. The conversation between God and I have switched from being highly informational to more intimate. Perhaps the switch of tone can be attributed to the fact that I have children who, despite being raised in a (mostly) secure, loving and affirming home, still pander after the praise of their parents. After spending hours working on Lego droids of their own dreaming, they still come clamoring for my praise, wanting to describe every detail and point out every unique feature on repeat until I, too, am enamored with their handiwork.
They are inviting me into their delight in their work. They want to share their joy. And they have come to me, the authority and adult in the home. They can have all the praise of their brothers and friends, but they still long for my stamp of pride and seal of approval. For to validate our validation, we need to be certain it comes from the highest source.
To have your mom tell you are good at soccer or art means very little compared to hearing such praise from Messi or Mr. Pappy. To have a mediocre boss impressed with your work means little compared to the applause of the authorities in that milieu. Just now, my five year old came to show me the Star Wars book he has been working on for days. It is one thing for me to applaud him, but it would be quite another for George Lucas to affirm him!
We need our validation to come from a valid source and our praise to come from an apt authority otherwise, the significance won’t stick. What is unbelievable about the Christian’s validation is that the One we are to naturally run to for validation is both Our loving Father and the Authority on all things!
Just as my children bring their work to me to invite me into their delight and to give me opportunity to speak profound praise into their hungry souls, God invites us to continually bring our vying for validation to Him. When we are hit with a wave of insecurity or drowning in the desperate need for someone to see and acknowledge our uniqueness, God delights in our coming to Him. He is not put off by our intrusions or our constant need to be affirmed. After all, He is our Father.
When we come to Him as such, three things will surely happen. First, He will gladly welcome us. Second, He will proudly point us to His One True Son, as if to say, “Look at Him! You matter so very much to me that I was willing to send my Son to suffer so you could bask in my praise.” Thirdly, the doting affection of the One True Authority, the Eternal judge will begin to swallow up my desperate hunger for lesser validation from lesser judges.