Validation is defined as “recognition or affirmation that a person, their feelings, or their opinions are valid or worthwhile.” Who doesn’t like being told their thoughts and feelings are valid? That their time is worthwhile? That their opinions make sense? I know I do. But slowly, we can start seeking validation in places we were never meant to find it. It’s no wonder that, soon enough, we never quite feel enough—so we keep searching.
Don’t get me wrong—encouragement is a beautiful, life-giving thing. We all love to hear that our time in the gym is paying off, that our boss is noticing the extra hours we’re putting in, that our spouse loves the new car we bought them, and even that people think the picture of cucumber gazpacho we just snapped is “pretty neat.” All the likes. All the praise. All the affirmation.
But what happens when it stops?
What do you do when the opinions of everyone in each of your siloed worlds start to clash, when the new car stops making up for the long hours away from home, when the compliments about your weight stop coming, or when your boss just thinks the long hours are the new normal?
What happens when the person who’s been praising you for years suddenly decides that you’re all wrong, that your opinions are out of touch, that you’re crazy, that you’re falling behind, or that you’re no longer attractive or interesting? Essentially, what happens when the humans whose opinions you’ve put so much stock in suddenly start acting … human? That is to say they change, they grow, they age, and they have life-altering experiences.
Maybe We’re Seeking Validation in the Wrong Places
If we’re honest, we humans can be pretty petty. We chase trends, habits, goals, hobbies—all of which will change and fade. If we can be real enough to admit that we are this fickle, then why should we be surprised when the other people in our lives are just as flighty? And why then would we spend so much time and energy—so much of our precious life—giving them power to define our worth?
The problem is we’re building our image on a foundation of people who will most certainly change. We need a stronger foundation. The solution is to stop seeking validation in the wrong place and to start finding our validation from someone who never changes.
And there’s only one person like that. He’s in us, walks with us, and works through us. He is Christ. Jesus. God. Holy Spirit. This trinitarian force that passionately created everything, including us, with overwhelming love and purpose. What is He saying about you?
Maybe he’s telling you that you are beautiful. Maybe He’s telling you that you are doing enough, despite what the latest article or magazine headline would suggest. Maybe He’s reminding you that you are a good father, even if you’re not making six figures, because you take the time to love your own kids as He first loved you. Maybe He’s telling you what your father never did—that He’s proud of you. Maybe He’s telling you that you can find freedom from shame because He’s with you—no matter what.
How do you hear Him, though? You have to listen. But to listen well, you have to get away from the noise. Put your phone down. Listen. He’s whispering truth to you. He’s saying:
There’s a difference between doing your job well and letting your job define you.
There’s a difference between taking care of your body and finding validation in how impressed people are by your biceps.
There’s a difference between sharing your life with others on social media and refreshing to see who approves of it or not.
He’s reminding you that you already have His love. So stop chasing mere likes.
But what will you be without those things, you ask? Who are you, really? As scary as it may be to confront that question, take it to the one who made you. Let Christ examine your heart. What is He showing you? Affirm boldly who Christ has created you to be, quirks and all.
That doesn’t mean you completely ignore people and live in your own little bubble. People matter to God, and so we too should place value on people. We should always love people. We should listen and pay attention to people. We just have to make sure we’re not building the foundation of our self or our life on what people say or think. Build your foundation on Christ and who He has made you to be, and you’ll always have the right filter to weigh the endless feedback life throws your way.
Hear me on this. No one person is going to give you all the validation you need to feel whole. Because people may validate what we do, but Christ validates who we are. So, who are you?
Find freedom from seeking validation externally by living from the internal validation you receive when you accept Christ. Because when you recognize that you are made in the image of a God who sees you, knows you, and loves you—you can start really living the full life God intended for you to have.