From very soon after you were born you have been looking for validation. Do you see me? Am I OK? Am I important? It’s one of the things children look for from their parents. As an adult you’re still looking for it from your spouse, your supervisors, friends, or even social media. But how has looking to those sources for your validation worked for you? Can you really get your validation from God?
Sometimes I call myself a recovering people pleaser. Growing up I got very good at pleasing my superiors. It got me good grades and good jobs, but it didn’t nourish my soul or help me connect with people in healthy ways. And it certainly didn’t help my relationship with God. It took intentional effort for me to find another source of validation.
We humans naturally look to those around us to tell us whether we’re measuring up. A young man may grade himself by how popular or beautiful his girlfriend is. An unattached single person can struggle to feel OK if others around her expect a boyfriend or husband to be in the works. A husband or wife looks to their spouse for validation and either shrivels if they don’t feel it or voraciously grasps for more and more.
And by the way, if Adam looks to Eve to validate him he’ll always be disappointed. If Eve looks to Adam to fill her up she’ll always be empty.
As a Christian you probably intellectually agree that our validation should come from our relationship with God. But how do you do experience that? I’ve been asked this a lot recently, so I’m sharing my answer here.
It helps to go to our Pattern, the most Fully Alive human being ever to walk this earth: Jesus. As a man He needed validation also. Where did He get His validation from, and how did He get it?
Perhaps the clearest picture of this comes from Matthew: “And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:16-17).
Remember, Jesus was a human being, and one of our primary needs is to be seen and validated. Jesus sought and received validation from His heavenly Father before He had performed one miracle, preached one sermon, healed one person. He heard His Father voice His pleasure in Him just because of who He was, not based on anything He had done.
This validation spoke to the core of who Jesus was, and He carried that throughout His ministry. Near the end of His ministry as He was approaching the cross He needed – and received – another moment of validation from His Father. (See Matthew 17:5)
That sense of validation from His Father allowed Jesus to remain true to His mission regardless of whether the people around Him loved Him or hated Him. He knew Who He was and Whose He was.
And that’s what we need too.
Your Validation from God
A sense of validation isn’t only or even primarily a left-brain logical thing. It’s something that speaks to and through your right brain. So to experience receiving validation from God you’ll need to also bring your right brain to the party. Here’s what that can look like.
Sit in a quiet place – your prayer “closet,” an outdoor place of beauty, or somewhere similar. Take that passage at the end of Matthew 3, the story of Jesus’ baptism, and read it slowly perhaps a few times. Imagine being there; what would your senses have been experiencing? Let yourself be in the story.
And then imagine God coming to you where you are right now. In your mind’s eye see Him approach you and notice the look on His face. Notice your own internal physical and emotional response; there’s no “right” way to feel. Allow Him to come close and sit near you. How close is He to you?
And then hear Him say, “My beloved [son or daughter], here you are! I’m so deeply pleased to be here with you!” Notice that He’s pleased with you not because of anything you’ve done or not done, not because of what you’ve accomplished or where you’ve failed. He’s pleased to be with you because of who you are – His beloved child.
Sit with that for a few minutes. You might choose to come back to this place repeatedly over the next week or few weeks.
Experiencing validation from God in this way will begin to change your neurobiology.
Carrying God’s Validation with You
An experience with God like this is powerful. It’s also not enough in itself. You can intentionally carry that sense of validation with you as you go about your life. You will encounter assaults on your identity, people or circumstances that would have you see yourself as not enough, too much, a failure, etc. That’s when you draw on the place in your soul where you sensed validation from your heavenly Father.
You can make a mental or written note to go back to when you feel assaulted. It’s like a schoolboy bragging on his daddy; “Well my daddy says . . . !” You need to know what your Daddy says about you. And you need to remind yourself of that.
You also need other people around you to help you remember. That’s an important part of what authentic connection with a few others in the body of Christ can do for you.
Carrying that validation with you allows you to begin living your life before an audience of One.
Your Turn: Who do you naturally look to for validation? Will you try going to God for your deepest validation? What does that look like for you? Leave a comment below.
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- Going to even good people such a spouse or friends for validation will never satisfy. Here’s how to get your deepest validation from God, your heavenly Father. Tweet that.
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