For as long as I can remember I have struggled with the concept of validation. Stemming from a compulsive need to compare myself to others and an often crippling case of insecurity, I crave it. I need people to tell me I’m important and I need people to tell me I’m pretty, yet even when they do I only believe it momentarily. I walk on eggshells with everything I do, desperately hoping not to fail. Because if I fail at something, then I must be a failure and that, to me, is a nightmare. Perfectionism plagues my mind and the desire to be wanted overwhelms my thoughts, either fueling my actions or prohibiting them entirely. You need to have confidence, my brain tells me. Confidence is sexy, you can’t feel this way about yourself and expect him to like you. Maybe if you had more confidence he would want to be around you more. Or maybe if you were prettier, skinnier, and more outgoing. Or perhaps that’s the problem – you’re too outgoing. Stop being so abrasive, stop being so strong-willed.
Oh, there you go again with that lack of confidence. No wonder he doesn’t like you.
Naturally, people desire to make me feel better and this usually comes in the form of flattery. They give me fluffy compliments, mostly triggered by compassion, (though I don’t doubt their sincerity) and tell me to believe in myself. But no matter how many Bible verses are spoken over me and no matter how many people tell me they love me, I still feel defeated. I still feel unworthy.
But then I realized something.
I realized that in all my efforts to please those around me and save myself from humiliation, I had missed the point entirely of why I was created and what I was placed on this earth to do. People’s words, while sweet, never satisfied because they only fueled my need for affirmation, not transformed my thinking. A boy telling me I’m pretty, though kind, never changed the way I felt about myself because it continued to place my worth and my value in the eyes of another individual. And that is exactly the problem – that’s not where my identity lies.
I have spent all this time trying to be a part of man that I have forgotten that I already belong to Someone who has never once asked me to change a thing in order for Him to love me. Who has never once chastised me for my failures or been alarmed by my shortcomings. Who is overwhelmingly patient and kind, loving me regardless of how much I falter. I have so desperately desired to be in a relationship that affirmed my insecurities and boosted my confidence that I have neglected my First Love, not only the One who accepts, but the One who created me.
I was at a worship service one night when I felt the Lord ask me, “Why am I not enough?” and to be honest I couldn’t even give Him an answer. Why I have allowed myself to feel so hurt and betrayed by the people of this world I will never understand. Why I have spent more time trying to please the eyes of man rather than the eyes of God I do not know. Why I have traded a no-strings-attached relationship for constant strife is still a mystery.
I haven’t mastered this concept entirely yet, of course. I still crave validation and affirmation, and I am far from achieving total dependence on the Lord. But it is in these moments that I find it important to take a step back and remember where my identity truly lies – in Christ. In Him, I am important. In Him, I find peace. In Him, I am accepted, I gain an inheritance, and I am loved.
Man’s validation is temporary, but a true confidence in the Lord and in His calling is unshakable.
words by Jodie Jones and photo by Cate Willis