Affirmed, Approved and Validated

I remember the first time I heard the word, Affirmed.  We had opened a Christian bookstore in St. James, MN.  The shelves were stocked with the latest inspirational books and cds and the card rack was loaded with greeting cards for every occasion imaginable.  I began to notice that our best sellers were cards of “affirmation.”  Since I had never received an affirmation card and the small town we lived in had 7 or 8 Lutheran churches, I assumed it had something to do with a Lutheran religious tradition.  One day, I decided to read all the cards and to my surprise I discovered that “affirmation” is something we all crave; Lutherans, Pentecostals, Catholics, Non-believers, everyone!

The dictionary defines AFFIRMATION as “to express agreement with or commitment to; to uphold and support; to approve.  APPROVAL was the word that caught my attention in this definition.  From the time we are aware of our surroundings we seek for approval. To approve someone is to appreciate, commend, express a favorable opinion; to endorse or validate.  The opposite of approval is rejection. Rejection is devastating and destructive.  Rejection will destroy one’s dreams, drive to live and ultimately the very person who experienced the personal destruction.  I love approval because it VALIDATES me.  This brings me to my last word, VALIDATION.   Validation gives official approval, substantiation and confirmation to our words and actions. The tiniest baby to the oldest adult desires affirmation, approval and validation and we can find all three in a loving God.

Chapel service had ended and I had begun to minister to individual’s personal needs.  After praying with many of the ladies, I glanced over at the one remaining person patiently waiting to speak to me.  She began to tell me of different things that were “bugging” her and how she was trying to handle all of them in her troubled life.  I listened to her words and began to form the prayer in my mind that I would pray with her.  Suddenly, she spoke to me from her heart, “I don’t feel validated!” she cried.  Now, we had gotten to the root of her problems and could pray specifically for her need.  After talking and praying together, she began to see different ways God is validating her life and her as a person every day.

After many years of attending funerals and talking with grieving people, the most important thing to the family is that their loved one is not forgotten.  Again we come back to the word VALIDATION.    It is ok to the family that you may have seen the faults of their loved one, they saw them too.  It doesn’t matter that you may have had philosophical differences; no two people agree.  But do you have a story about their life, who were they as a person, will they be remembered now that they are no longer living on earth, can you validate them?  The dead person becomes an extension of ourselves.  We will all lie in the same place someday, surrounded by sorrowful friends and loved ones and we need to know that funny stories are being told, that we will be missed, that our live mattered; that we were validated.

In my own life, people may not have always affirmed me or approved of my actions; I can live with that, if I have been validated.  I need to know that I have worth as a human being; that my life matters and someone cares about what I feel, think, do and speak. II Corinthians 10:18 reminds us, “For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.  No matter how many awards or accolades we may receive in this life, we are not validated, affirmed or approved until God approves us. My final verse comes from James 1:12, Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. You may feel as my friend at chapel that no one validates, affirms or approves of you.  The Word of God tells us that when we become His child, He stamps His seal of approval on us unto the Day of Redemption at which time we will receive a crown of life.  NOW THAT’S AFFIRMATION, APPROVAL AND VALIDATION!!!

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