Validation (n.) — the act of proving or seeking affirmation of our feelings, opinions, or our worth; actively looking to others for approval
Motivation (n.) — the reason for acting a particular way; the general desire for someone to do something
Last night we had some friends over. We cooked out, sat by the pool & the fire, had some great conversation and just got caught up on life. In the midst of this, one thing we discussed was how social media & technology — specifically smartphones — have changed everything. And not for the better. To be clear, we weren’t having one of those “old people griping about the good ole days” conversations, but more of a “Are we parenting and leading our kids the best way possible through this?” type of talk. We talked about the dangers of the psychological impact of the endorphin hits. We spoke about the constant vitriol spewed out on social media and the numbness that comes with thinking you’re saying everything into a vacuum and the passive aggressiveness that comes along with the apparent anonymity and the lack of personal communication skills that are becoming more evident all the time. Are we letting our kids — and ourselves — wander mindlessly into this mine field? Or are we carefully walking with them and protecting them?
And as it was all happening, I vividly remember being hit with the thought:
I need to take a picture!
We need a picture of us and our friends.
We need a picture of hamburgers and beach towels and key lime pie and friends with smiles.
And no sooner did all those thoughts rush through my head, my favorite question trailed right behind: WHY?
WHY did I — a 46 year old man — think I needed a picture?
To post on social media. Instagram. Facebook.
WHY did I — a redeemed child of God — think I needed to post on social media?
So you and all my friends, acquaintances, followers, and even people I don’t know from Adam will affirm me.
And WHY did I — a supposedly content husband, father, and friend — feel I needed your affirmation?
Because…I have unconsciously begun to live for everyone else’s VALIDATION.
Our greatest MOTIVATION has become VALIDATION.
We all want to be LIKED. That’s nothing new. What is new is we feel we need to know that everyone else LIKES what we’re doing, what we bought, what we ate, who we ate it with, where we bought it or ate it, what we were wearing when we ate it, and how what we bought now looks in our house.
We want the favorable things to be seen. All of them. And for everyone else to LIKE them.
We want the unfavorable things to be guarded, hidden, and unknown.
Our motivation — so often for so many of us — has become VALIDATION.
We’re longing for someone else to affirm our feelings, opinions, and (more often) our value and worth.
We desperately want someone (everyone) else’s approval.
We are so living in a false reality with a false sense of worth and approval that we unconsciously — but still very genuinely — don’t feel like we’ve actually eaten, purchased, or experienced something unless or until we’ve POSTED it and everyone else has LIKED it.
Think about your last vacation.
Reflect on the last dinner or party you attended.
Think about your kid’s last game, tournament, award, or concert.
How present were you?
I’m not saying that we should never take pictures or that we should never post about these things.
I am saying that we need to take a serious look and thoroughly examine WHY we take these pictures and make these posts.
My dinner and conversation with my friends last night was very real. It was much needed. It was refreshing. And you don’t need to know who it was, what we were wearing, or even what we ate. I don’t need your approval. I don’t need you to LIKE it for it to actually matter, or much less have actually taken place. That said, I’m not saying any of this because I actually think you want to know, but because somewhere in the depths of me I still keep thinking I need you to know. And I need you to approve.
My flesh keeps longing for VALIDATION from the people behind the smartphones.
My Spirit says that my worth, approval, value, and validation are found in Jesus Christ.
Maybe you think I’m blowing all this out of proportion. That’s possible. It’s happened before.
But I’m seriously betting that many of you feel what I’m feeling and believe what I’m saying. And if that’s you, I encourage you to seize control over every thought, word, action, and motivation that guides you today. Paul says that through the Spirit and the power of God we are to “take every thought captive”. Every thought. Every motivation. All of them.
You don’t need everyone to know every detail about every moment of your life.
You do, however, need to be fully present and live every one of those moments to the fullest.
You & I don’t need one another’s approval to find our value or know our worth.
We can find that totally and fully in Jesus. Nowhere and in no one else. Just him.
And the last time I checked, he isn’t on Instagram, Snapchat, or Facebook. Crazy!