Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Search for Significance

When I was younger, I wanted to be different.  Being different, I imagined, made me someone.  It established significance.  I had my own thing, my own "code", my own me that made me stand out from everyone else.  I carried that "difference" within myself through college, where I realized that it was a double-edged sword.  On one hand, it gave me a "name", but on the other hand, it made me very lonely.  I hid behind it, I retreated to it, because I didn't want to let anyone close to me... and honestly probably didn't even know how.  I was safe, but I was in a self-made prison.

What I have learned about man's "quest for significance" is that our quest cannot ultimately be satisfied.  Whatever we deem worthy of bestowing that significance on us -whether it be wealth, intellect, wisdom, a relationship, our social status, our job, our beliefs- will become something that rules us.  I have learned that this quest for significance is a sham because the whole enterprise is built upon a lie.  Every endeavor to establish a significance and glory of our own apart from God is the essence of sin.  It reveals how naturally the human heart seeks this kind of glory for itself, unwilling to settle for being even an "ordinary" creature who serves and loves the living God.

I have found now, however, that I can taste and see the sweetness of belonging to God and having a glory and purpose that is not my own but bestowed by my Maker... not depending on comparison to other people, not depending upon my works, but depending on Him who made me.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The Problem with Emotional Validation

Emotional validation can be great.  Everybody likes to know they are heard, understood, and that their emotional experience is valid.  When a hurting person has someone to lean on and talk to, who can validate their pain and let them know they aren't crazy for having those hurts, it can be instrumental in that person's healing.

But there is a limit to what validation has to offer.  There is a limit to validation's effectiveness.  The issue with emotional validation is that our emotions about things are tied to us, and we sin.   Therefore, there can come a point where you just have to tell the person, "I've listened to your hurts so that you know I'm in your corner.  I've cried with you, hurt with you, and felt frustrated and angry with you.  But now I'm really just listening to you complain about and criticize people, and that has to stop.  I'm not going to sit here and let you sin and expect me to help you."

Emotional validation is helpful in careful doses.  It can help a person through a tough time.  It is a foot-in-the-door toward establishing trust and partnership.  But validation at the expense of the truth can just be enabling someone to continue in sin.

"Hey, I understand that you feel very frustrated about those people, but right now you're just sinning.  They haven't actually sinned against you.  You are expecting me to tell you that it is okay for you to act like this, but it isn't.  Sorry."