In the heart of every person is an internal desire for validation. I believe that at the center of this validation is a question. That question is: do I have what it takes? We see this play out at a very young age in children. Think about the playground at school when it is time to choose teams. For the kids who are picked first, their question is answered with a “yes”, and the kids picked last get a “no, you do not have what it takes.” Every day we are asking this question in subtle ways. We ask it to our spouses, bosses and our own children. I am convinced that this desire for validation started at the garden with Adam and Eve, birthing an identity crisis for all of mankind.
7Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. 8 Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze,[b] and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden. 9 So the Lord God called out to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” 10 And he said, “I heard you[c] in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked, so I hid.” (Gen 3:7-10)
Why do we search for validation?
Morgan Snyder, in his book Becoming a King, talks about this very thing. In summary, he says that “before the fall, Adam and Eve enjoyed and rested in love and validation.” They had self-esteem and self-worth that sustained and strengthened them for the meaningful work the Father was training them to do. With God, they knew they were everything they need to be to partner with Him and contribute creatively to His creation. Everything needed to rule and subdue, as well as cherish and steward creation was present. Adam knew, I have what it takes and Eve knew, I am a life giver. They were united as one with God and nothing was impossible.
After the fall, identity was called into question. They began a search to answer that question. Shame entered the world for the first time. Anxiety was born, and the reaching to find fulfillment apart from God began. It began as a reach for a fig leaf to cover all the exposed and vulnerable. For the first time, man had no rest in knowing he was the beloved son, God’s Favorite.
Through the fall, validation was called into question. Fear spread like a wildfire. For the first time in human history, Adam doubted his strength. Equally, Eve doubted her capacity to bring forth life and beauty. This is where it all started. Our desperate search for love in the form of validation and identity apart from God.
Morgan states, “Wholehearted authenticity, courage, love, vulnerability, intimacy — all evaporated. Shame grew, anxiety filled the air. Hearts were unsettled. And both Adam and Eve turned to a false self for the first time.”
Amidst unsettled and anxious hearts, here are three steps to find validation today:
Step 1: Understand and receive your identity
Who are you? Who are you becoming? I think that at the root of insecurity and anxiety is having a false understanding of self. When we do not know who we are, we often pretend to be something we think the world wants to see. Failing to understand God’s truth about who we are leaves us insecure, anxious, and endlessly searching for validation in all the wrong places.
We have several resources on the Empowered Homes website to help you understand exactly who you are. One great resource we have available is My Identity in Christ Card, this card is designed to download and print off as a daily reminder of what God’s word has to say about YOU. The second resource is designed for parents to help their kids Understand Who They Are in Christ. (Find the links at the bottom of this resource to download this resource as a background for your phone screen.).
Step 2: Stop giving your question away
Too many of us give this question over to people and things that are not the Father. Without even realizing it, we often are asking others to fulfill our need for validation. If I am striving to gain my self-worth and validation from my spouse then I am going to be disappointed and leading my home out of weakness. If I get emotionally unstable when my children fail, chances are I am finding my validation in who they are or are not becoming. Those of us who are people pleasers, seeking the approval of everyone, especially our bosses, are exhausted. Why do we feel unfulfilled? Chances are it’s because we have been asking others to validate us over and over again. We are seeking validation from people or even things that are not meant to bring fulfillment and validation. Things that are not of the God, our gracious and loving father.
Step 3: Take your question to the Father
For the next week, I want to challenge you to do something you may have never done before. In your time with the Lord I want you to ask Him your question. Do I have what it takes, Lord? You may even ask, who or what have I been asking to validate me?
You may have to ask it over and over again, but I pray that you would simply listen and find rest in your Heavenly father. Find rest in knowing that he is the only one that can give you true validation. Slow down. Listen. Take a piece of paper and write it down and tape it to your bathroom mirror. Take your question to the Father and wait for an answer.
The challenge is that because we are decedents of Adam and Eve and living in a fallen world, we are not immune to searching elsewhere for validation. The beauty of the Gospel is that in Jesus’ death and resurrection we find the answer to our question. The Gospel is Jesus telling every man and every woman looking for validation in their lives, “Because of me, you 100% have what it takes.” Receive that and rest in His grace.