"Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men to be seen by them"
Shocking revelation: I am not a perfect husband.
Did you catch your breath?
My wife is great, and has put much effort and work into this fixer upper she calls a husband. While there is plenty of work left, I have to happily admit the naïve and selfish kid I was 8 years ago is not someone I really recognize anymore. Still, there are some things that I need to really keep working on.
A point of contention in our marriage has been the way in which I "help" out around the house. For a long time I had to announce to her everything I had "accomplished". She would be gone for a few hours and I would do some mundane task(often one she has done nearly every day of our marriage). Upon her return I would utilize my marching band friends to play a fanfare and march around the living room while I proudly announced to her that her Knight in Shining armor had vacuumed/folded laundry/scrubbed some dishes.
She was rarely impressed.
Not just not impressed, she was annoyed.
And then I would feel frustrated and hurt. Didn't she know how lucky she was? I was amazing. And I had just proven that fact by doing some obvious task to impress upon her how great I really was. So I would just be more obvious next time.....Maybe then she would celebrate how great I was with me next time.
We look for validation from all the wrong places. And in all the wrong ways. How often the things we do are not a natural outflow of who we are, but a self-centered desire to hear praise.
"Did you hear how I walked an old lady across the street yesterday????"
"Well, when I donate to charity I make sure I give until it hurts, DID YOU KNOW THAT I GIVE TO CHARITY!!!!????"
When we look for validation from others we will always be disappointed. People are rarely as impressed with us as we wish they were. And even if they are, and you can get a good warm fuzzy feeling from it, that validation is fleeting. It is fleeting because when we seek validation from others we are screaming inside ourselves that we are desperate for someone to tell us we are ok. Because we don't really believe we are.....
Jesus speaks right to that heart issue. He points out that we need to put a check on our heart. How can we really be selfless if it is rooted in a need to be praised. Are we not content with just doing what is right because it is RIGHT?!?!
We struggle with that because we have lost a sense of who we really are. So we artificially try to fill in that space through praise. Praise from others, and praise from self.
Have you noticed how many people post before and after pictures of their weight loss online? Are we less pleased with being healthy if we don't get 100 likes on our pictures? And if others aren't praising us we feel like we can't feel good about ourselves either. We look for validation from the very people who are desperately seeking validation themselves.
Did you know you are valuable and of great worth simply because you are you? You are made in the image of a loving God, and called by name by a gracious savior. You can find validation, not in what you have done, or will do, but in who YOU ARE. Who you are is not a hurdle to leap or a hoop to jump. It is your very innermost being. Dirt and all.
Here is what is amazing about resting in the validation that comes from the only place validation matters. You begin to become more of who you wished you would be.
A while ago I came to the realization that I had turned tasks in marriage into goals to accomplish so that my wife would tell me how great I was. And she noticed. Maybe not in those exact words. but she knew I wasn't just helping because it was right, but I was helping to get a reaction. So I stopped caring what she thought, and started caring about what is right because God made me.
When I was doing things to impress her, it was exhausting. Every task that I tried to accomplish felt like a mountain to climb and celebrate. Since my heart conviction on the subject, I don't even think about it. I am not trying to tell you that I am impressive. But trying to convey to you that I was trying to have a works based relationship and it was EXHAUSTING. Giving that mindset up and just caring about what God cared about took away the exhaustion of tasks and those same "things" just became an outflow of how He was making me and shaping me.
Do not seek validation from Man or Yourself. Rest in the fact that the only validation that there really is comes from He who Made you. And He thinks you are great.
The Most Annoying Man in the World.....