Can you think of a time when all you really wanted was for someone to understand what you’re going through? Maybe you want someone to understand how hard your marriage is or maybe you want a person to know how hard you have it at your job? Or maybe, you want someone to understand the real reason why you acted so irrationally. If you’re honest with yourself you do this on a weekly, if not daily, basis…you want people to understand you. You want people to understand why you did what you did. You want to be validated in your feelings, thoughts and actions. You want others to affirm your line of thinking, your actions (however rational or irrational they may be) and you want that sense of peace that what you did/said/acted was done so in the correct manner.
Our topic today isn’t whether or not its wrong to seek out validation from people; thats for another blog post. But what we should be doing is asking ourselves how well are we listening to others who are in need of validation from us. “Others” being an employee or a boss, a spouse, your children or the guy at the coffee shop you randomly met who just needs someone to listen.
This may be shocking to you if you haven’t already figured this out but life involves people. It involves people, with hearts, that desire to be connected, to be known and to be understood.
How well do you connect with people? This isn’t a question of whether or not you go to Starbucks and talk for 3 hours. It’s more of a question of how well do you acknowledge people and where they are at? The opposite of this is jumping to conclusions about a person or group of people and invalidating them. Basically, you write them off without even attempting to connect. Dr. Cloud says it best,
‘To empathize and validate what someone is experiencing doesn’t mean that you always agree or even think that the other person is right. It just means that you see it as valid in that it is really their experience and true for that person and you show them that you understand what they are thinking and feeling.’
We have a saying here in Mission Church : Be Interested not Interesting. When you talk with people, when you interact with them…be interested in them, in their thoughts & feelings and in their needs. You don’t always have to agree but you can listen, you can empathize and most importantly you can point them to Jesus. When you don’t, you run the risk of them seeking out others to “side with them” on whatever issue. This is how affairs begin, how organizations crumble, how children are at odds with their parents, how churches split and how a person stays in a constant state of discontent.
And when you find yourself in a place of needing some type of validation for your own experience, relationship or actions why not first go to someone who knows your heart and your needs better than you…Jesus.