Validation versus Valuation

I saw her on social media.  She was beautiful.  Young, fresh faced, and glowing.  She had a cowgirl hat on and a cute plaid shirt but was pulling her shirt open to one side to expose a lacy, blue bra.  A blatant tease for any male that happened upon it.  A begging for attention albeit only the sexual kind.  She was very validated by men and women alike with comments and “likes”, but all I could see was the longing for someone to value her for what lies beneath the beauty.

It looks  different for us older women, but I fear it is much the same.  Our audience changes and most probably our activities, but the desire for validation remains.

Any of us who spend any time on social media or television see it all the time.  We read it all the time.  As a woman and mother to daughters and granddaughters, I have this urge to scream at the screen…..”you’ve got it all wrong!  We’ve got it all wrong!”
I could expound on the evils of social media, television, advertising, the movie industry, objectification of women, the music industry, the porn industry, etc. all of which feed female insecurity about our bodies, our choices, our style, our individuality, our interests, but I won’t.   That’s all been hashed out hundreds of times.   I don’t want to distract you from the issue at hand:

Validation is not the same as Valuation.

We are allowing Satan, the Father of Lies to confuse us.  He wants you to search for validation from the world, from people.  He wants you to believe your worth is tied to being validated in the here and now by those around you.   He wants to make you forget your true valuation is found in Christ alone.  You can be validated by words of affirmation or the click of a “like” on your Facebook page but you will never be valued by other humans like Abba values you.

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this, that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:8

Having others find your words and actions valid is not what your soul desires.  Validation from others will never quench that thirst.  Your soul cries for the deep, undefinable value that comes as a grace gift from God.  Can you accept it?

We live in this global world where lives are on display more than ever before.

The average Josie can plaster herself all over the world-wide web with a quick selfie and a click of the post button.  She begs for valuation but only gets validation that yes, she is beautiful with all kinds of emojis to go along.  God does not value outward beauty.  He values your eternal,  inside self.   The part of you he wants in eternity with Him.

Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting; but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.  Proverbs 31:30

The average Josie can blog…average self included.  Why all the bloggers out there?  Why thousands of opinions on how to stop a 2-year-old temper tantrum or successfully raise a teenager….Well, we are quite possibly looking for validation from the masses that we do, indeed, have great wisdom and skill.  It is possible God does not value our faulty wisdom, especially that which he has not imparted.  He values our minds and desires that we seek to find Him in every portion of our day, Him!!

The average Josie can share her successes, and those of her kids with all her devoted friends who will in turn be awed and amazed at the stealthy way she navigates the challenges of daily life while they salivate over the delicious meals she serves her family (insert Instagram) while their family eats yet another cardboard pizza.  She is validated by the likes and comments.  God does not value your meatloaf and get this….probably not even your child’s math grade.  He values you!  He values your heart!  He values your child’s heart!  How sadly we unknowingly teach our children to seek validation for works and effort instead of teaching them how very precious they are to Abba both in failure and success.  Visit Mary and Martha in Luke 10.

C’mon ladies.  Be honest.  It feels good to have validation.  I’m guilty as charged!

I’m not saying you need to dump social media, and I am not saying you dump personal responsibility because God values you in any state.   I’m saying you need to know what matters.  I’m saying you need to know WHO matters.  The lover of your soul, that’s who.

Let’s break it down.

Validation is to recognize, establish, or illustrate the worthiness or legitimacy of *you*.  Merriam Webster until the *you*.

Validation is something we seek to obtain from other human beings.  It is self serving.  It feeds our hunger to succeed. It is usually self contained and doesn’t place God in his rightful position.  The need for validation increases as we lose sight of our valuation.

Valuation, on the other hand, is how much something is worth, and the estimator who holds the precious object in His hands determines that worth.  You are so highly valued by God that he paid for you with the life and blood of his only son, Jesus Christ.

For God so loved the world (You) that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  John 3:16.

  We freely speak it, but do we believe it?

When we let God’s valuation of us start to sink into the cracks of our public facade, it is God honoring.  It is at that moment when His radiance shines through us and our actions. More of Him and oh, so much less of us.  It is at that moment when our value in Christ Jesus is apparent for our families, our friends, and the world to see.  What great hope for all the wounded and empty women in our upside down world.

Take a moment to ask yourself where you are looking for validation.   Are you chasing it down as some kind of idol?  Now, consider who you are as a daughter of the King who formed every cell in your body by divine design.   Is there anyone you can imagine valuing so much that you would hand your child over for sacrifice to save that person?  No, but you are!  God values you that much.  If we were to start living out this knowledge, what would our homes, families, marriages, churches, jobs, etc. look like?

FOR THE MARRIED ONES:  A reminder…

Far too often, I look to my husband to be the one to value me the way only a Holy and Perfect Abba can.  Women, we need to take that pressure off our men.  They are but mere humans just like us.  We set them up for failure and set ourselves up for a stream of resentment when we look for them to fill the role of God.  I look at my own marriage and must ask myself, “what emotional energy do I require my husband to expend trying to prove I am valuable as Jesus holds his hands out to me with my pricetag still showing on his flesh”?

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When God says No

What is your no?

Maybe a dream job?  A relationship?  A desired goal?  Maybe it’s that negative pregnancy test.  Maybe it’s the confirmation of disease  delivered in the hard words on a pathology report or bottom line of the MRI?   The slow shake of a doctor’s head?

No is never easy.  No angers us.  No disappoints us.  No devastates us.

Sometimes the reason for the No will show itself in time, and we are blessed by the insight and wisdom we gain through being able to capture the whole process in our minds.  We can see exactly why God said no and we are all about praising Him for working it out on our behalf.  Much of the time; however, the bigger plan for the greater good is cloaked and in this life, goes unrevealed.   Unrevealed because the beauty in the No would be lost on us.  It’s infinite, extraordinary, eternal and we are finite, ordinary, and so temporal.   Yes, it would be lost on us.

I would be amiss to not address what I will call the Consequential No.  We are sinful, “stiff-necked” people. We come from the original “don’t tell me no” folks.  Some of the No’s we get are a direct result of our poor choices and/or the sin of others. While God wants to lavish us with all things amazing, we continue to exercise our free will and that gets in the way.  Natural consequences in this natural world result in a hard, cold No!

This is not heaven and there will be injustice and heartache and plenty of No.  This is just our temporary home.

It’s the No that comes after prayer, seeking, searching….. The No that comes after we have been obedient to resign our desire to God’s will.  That’s the No that we mourn over.  The one we long to find understanding in.  We think if we can just find God’s reason, it will somehow be an easier pill to swallow.  That is the No we have to resolve before it dissolves our spiritual and emotional well-being.  So what do we do with this heavy-weighted No?

First, know this:

You’re not at war with No, you are at war with Acceptance.

Secondly:

The burden isn’t on God to provide you with detailed, palatable explanations. The burden is on you to eventually, after appropriately grieving the No, acquiesce.  Please hear my heart – There is a time for grief, for honest conversations with the Lord,  for torrents of tears, even for anger, but only a time.  Eventually, living in that state will destroy you.  

We have some options.  We can throw ourselves on the ground kicking and hitting like a 2 year old.  We can scream until our voices fail.  We can even bang our heads on the floor, but none of that changes the No.  What it does do is further hurt us and drag those in close proximity into the scalding heat of our rage.    After the ashes from the volcanic eruption settle, No is still No.

We can beg God.  Moses did.  He got one of those consequential No’s.  A devastating blow.  In an incident during his 40 years of leading the whiny, stubborn, demanding Israelites through war after war, hardship after hardship,  He disobeyed God, bringing glory to himself instead of the Almighty.  God right then and there said No seeing the Promised Land for you and your brother.  Nope.  The time came when Moses begged God to change his mind.  “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to my any more about this matter”.  (Deuteronomy 3:26)  No was still No.  Moses died only seeing the Promised Land from a mountain top miles and miles away.

We can run from God.  Jonah did.  He ended up in the belly of a whale before doing exactly what God had asked him to do in the first place.  In his case, Go was still Go.  Jonah’s No was an answer to the old do I have a choice question.

We can test God.  Gideon did.  If you are really going to do what you say you will Lord, I need a sign, and then another.   We can do that.  Intellectually, we can find every reason why blind trust is for the stupid when really, a simple mind is exactly what we need. Choose trusting not testing.

We can imitate our Lord.  Knowing all that was bearing down upon him, Jesus went into prayer.  Let his words settle into the corners of your mind and the hurting parts of your heart…”My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death.”……. “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.”  (Matthew 26:38,39).  No begging for a different outcome.  No running away from his purpose.  No testing the trustworthiness of the Father’s plan.  Acceptance.

Acceptance is your burden, not the answer No.  Pick it up, carry it, embrace it.  Offer it to others.  Show them how to do the same.

Acceptance must be invited.  It is the beginning of God being glorified through your No.

Acceptance is letting go of control, even when there are no answers.

Acceptance is an offering of praise.  When I am at the end of my angst over the No, when I’m exhausted from the search for answers that cannot be found,  it is then I can rest in Him.  It is there where I find my peace.

Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.  When you pass through the waters,  I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.  When you walk through  the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.  Isaiah43:1b, 2

Seven ways to minister from the sidlines – Staying active in ministry from home.

We all fight it.  The feeling of  uselessness.  The hollowness of helplessness.  The longing to live unhindered.  Depression quickly consumes hope and all our focus becomes inward.  We start to lose any other-minded thoughts we should act upon, and we can sink into despair. We have nothing to offer.

It is a lie. 

No one ever, ever loses their value or worth in ministering to others just because it looks different.  Nor, are you off the hook because it’s “atypical”.  We may adjust how we carry it out, but it’s just as important as corralling toddlers in the church nursery or running casseroles to the sick or grieving.  Grab your Bible and read Paul’s story.  I would venture to say the thorn in his side caused some “adjusting” of how he ministered.  God didn’t say he couldn’t use the weak and weary, the frail and fragile. If we believe otherwise, we are believing Satan’s lies.  Take a moment to ask the Lord for forgiveness for not trusting him to use you where you are in whatever shape you’re in.  Ask our Father God to show you the ways HE has in mind to use you.  I’m starting you off with seven ministry ideas.

1.  Pray.  The greatest help you can ever be to another human being is to approach the throne of God on their behalf.  I  cringed as the words tumbled out of my mouth, “I’ll be praying, I wish there was more I could do”.  How dare I, a mere human, think any of my efforts (i.e physical work) could equal or surpass that of carrying another’s burden to the Lord in prayer.  Don’t be fooled into believing a plate of cookies is more beneficial than the prayer of a sincere heart.

Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. Hebrews 4:6

And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.  James 5:15, 16

2.  Hand write a note of encouragement to someone.  A good old fashioned, penned letter that someone will find delightful  when sorting through the bills and junk we retrieve from our mail boxes.  Those notes are keepsakes, heirlooms.  Hand written encouragement has a way of turning up months and years later, often at times when we need it the most.

 I thank my God every time I remember you.

  Philippians1:3

3.  Choose one thing to be thankful for and start to praise God for it.  Obsess on it.  I promise it will lead to another praise and another.  Today, before the day is done, share it with your family or caregiver.  They will be BLESSED by your positivity.  It is impossible to be angry and downcast while praising the Lord!  Be contagious.

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
    praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
    praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
    praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
    praise him with the strings(I) and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
    praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Psalm 150

4.  Get on your social media and be the bright spot to all your contacts.  Facebook, Twitter, whatever it may be gets pretty ugly.  I think the green-eyed monster lives there.  It’s where comparisons start and harsh words flow.  Grab your phone or computer and set out to bring The Light of the World to some of those dark posts.   Maybe it will be in the form of your favorite scripture, a recognition of your gratefulness for the friendships, or a picture of a kitten.  Seriously, who doesn’t get a smile out of a baby animal. If a thread has gone sour, be the person to stop the flow of poison.

 A cheerful heart is good medicine,
    but a crushed spirit dries up the bones

Proverbs 17:22

5.  Phone a friend.  Yup, old fashioned phone call. You are blessed with the time to listen. This form of ministry helps you to stay in that other-minded frame of mind as you must engage in their life story.  Don’t you sometimes get tired of people asking you how you are fully knowing they probably don’t really want to know, and they would need a medical degree to understand?  Here’s your chance to minister through authentic interest in another person’s life.  Ask, listen, engage.   Maybe there is an elderly relative you rarely see who lives far away or maybe there is an elderly shut in your church or neighborhood who knows the heavy grey of long and lonely days.  Break up their time with an unexpected treat of attention.

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.  James 1:27

6.  Minister to your family by putting your household in order.  Yes, it is ministry to those who help care for you when you organize the tasks you can no longer do.  Make a menu and the shopping list to go with it.  Organize it so your shopper can efficiently get through the store.  When chronic illness takes hold of our physical selves, we tend to allow ourselves to believe the lie that our usefulness and vitality have walked out the door with our health.  Do not fall into Satan’s trap to trick you into complacency or total dependency.  Put that brain to work and minister to your family by overseeing!

She watches over the affairs of her household
    and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
    her husband also, and he praises her:
 “Many women do noble things,
    but you surpass them all.”

Proverbs 31:27-29

7.  Prepare yourself for more ministry by storing up God’s word in your heart.  Open up that Bible, friend!  Read!  Soak it in!  Suffering people are often drawn to other suffering people as we look for understanding. What a gift!  What a responsibility!   You will need to have scriptures ready to roll off your tongue or fingertips at a moment’s notice.  Hurting people need the hope we find in scriptures.  While our words are helpful, they are nothing in comparison to our Lord’s.

Your word is a lamp for my feet,
    a light on my path. 

Psalm 119:105

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
    It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
    and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

Psalm 55:11

Pray and ponder how God might use you in ministry from home. Look for ways to become other-minded.  Because we are all uniquely created with individual gifts, I’m sure many of you will have awesome ministry ideas.  Join me by sharing your experiences and ideas in the comment section.