I have recently found myself constantly looking for validation. Validation that what I think, what I feel, and what I perceive is okay.
I am not lonely if I want to stay in most nights. I am not unhappy if I don’t laugh at your joke. I am not scared if I don’t want to do something.
Or maybe I am. And that is okay.
A few weeks ago, a friend of mine had mentioned she has been going to church after struggling with her thoughts, like I am. She wanted me to go with her, but I am pretty much always working on Sundays. Oddly enough, when the following weeks work schedule was posted, I was off on Sunday! A sign?
Sunday morning, at 10 am, we arrived at a bar. A projection screen, young man with a guitar, and about 30 people were inside awaiting a church service. The pastor was about 30 years old, he introduced himself, and we prayed. Then we sang, and in between verses a few people from the crowd went up to the front and read bible verses or told personal stories.
The girl in the aisle seat next to me made her way to the front of the crowd. She began a story about how she had found that she unconsciously changed her personalities according to who she was with, always wanting to be liked. She went on about how she struggled with this and how she came to terms with being her true self regardless of the circumstances. She ended with how being a part of this church and being close with God has brought her a sense of peace within herself.
She returned to her seat next to me and I whispered to her that she did awesome! It takes a lot of confidence to speak in front of others like that.
The service continued and the pastor told his own stories, stories from scripture, and stories to make us think.
He handed pink post-it notes to the crowd. He instructed us to write the phrase: “A part of me has allowed other people to define me as…” Fill in the blank. I tossed countless words around in my head and there I was again, trying to peak over at other’s notes, seeking validation in what I was feeling. When I acknowledged that I was falling into this mindset once again, I could let go of it and look deep into my own feelings and thoughts. And then it came to me.
A part of me has allowed other people to define me as selfish.
I stared at it, wondering if I should scribble it out. Then came the second part of the exercise. Pass your post-it to the person on your left.
I awkwardly handed it over to the girl who told her story earlier. The pastor announced, “On the backside of their note, I would like you to write, ‘We are here to help you discover that you are…'”
When my note was passed back I held onto it for a bit without reading it. It was hard to imagine what someone who has never met me could say to someone who has allowed people to see them as selfish. Selfish is such a yucky word.
“We are here to help you discover that you are filled with love to give to both yourself and others.” Filled with love. It brought tears to my eyes.
What she wrote to me was so pure. It hit me hard because of the truth in her statement. I am full of love, and I know that. I have so much to give others, and I know that. And I have plenty to give myself, and I know that too.
When the service was over I expressed to her what that meant to me and she told me she was shocked when she read my note because of how I had complimented her after her speech. I felt so at ease, that all my worry about other people not seeing me for who I am and my good intentions was all in my head. No more validation needed.
Basically, if anyone reading this is struggling with their thoughts as well, you’re not crazy, you are okay. Let your actions speak and your light will shine through.
I am filled with love and I am made with love.
Until next time,