Validate Me! (Part Two)
Last time we were chatting about validation… that mysterious need for someone else to approve our worth. We left off with the idea that the need is rooted in our design: to have relationship with God, and that God alone provides that validation. Yet we humans look everywhere else it seems.
Alcohol, drugs, sex, temporary or tenuous human relationships, a new romance, a social community, getting lost in what passes for entertainment, continuously buying stuff, countless hours of exercise to improve our appearance… it goes on endlessly. All of it is spawned by the “idol factory”. I’ve tried most of these things and none of them worked.
Today I want to consider the opposite of validation: the lack of it. The opposite of “love” is not “hate”, it is apathy, indifference. Rejection and hate both sting but apathy kills the soul. Apathy means we don’t even rate enough to be hated or despised.
We know hate breeds hate, violence invites retaliation, and resentment fuels wars between countries, spouses, friends. Aren’t all these founded on the illusion that one party must be proven right? And, if that is true, then the other party must be proven wrong.
Think back to a time when you were ignored, rated unworthy of attention, alienated. You may have come to the conclusion that you were defective, broken, ‘less than’. Did it occur to you then that the lines had been drawn by someone else? It became “us” versus “them”, didn’t it?
This is how it always begins.
If there is an “us” and a “them” then we have agreed we are not the same. To justify this, we look (unconsciously perhaps) for the differences: ethnicity, race, gender, preferred activities, wealth or poverty. I determine to be “not them” by identifying my differences from “them”. And I begin to build the walls to my fortress and armory. I begin to fear “them” because now they are deemed different, unknowable, unlike me. Who knows what they may do?! Somehow “they have different behaviors or preferences or choices” morphs into “they” being different creations than “us”.
As we grow into adulthood, this does not change. What defines “them” may change but the attitude is still there: “they” are different, and therefore should be feared. Or worse, annihilated. This is evidenced in our world history. Repeatedly. A tribe wipes out a tribe. A country attempts to exterminate a race.
But in every instance it started in the heart of an individual, or group of individuals.
There is a story concerning G. K. Chesterton. When a newspaper posed the question, ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ the Catholic thinker G. K. Chesterton reputedly wrote a brief letter in response:
G. K. Chesterton.’
It is us. It is our hearts. When we choose the “us” versus “them” path, no one wins.
You’ve probably heard this from Martin Niemoller before:
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.
God, save us from ourselves. Give us hearts to love and not hate, to see Your creations as valued individuals despite our differences. After all, that’s how You see each of us.