This Lent, my churches are studying together, through our sermon series and weekly group study, the complexity of relationships. Specifically, how to prevent their demise and heal those that are wounded. The first Sunday’s sermon topic was on “Invalidation.” It focused on the invalidation of Jesus through the treatment he received from the Roman soldiers. They mocked him and beat him because of who he was and what he stood for.
From there, we talked about how we treat others and recognize their feelings and beliefs. Each person holds these beliefs and experiences close to them, and how we react to their sharing can really change how the person feels now and in the future. If someone tells you about a problem and you brush that off or don’t really listen, you’ve invalidated their feelings. It’s important to think about how we react towards others in this way.
Also, I thought about how we respond in disagreement. There will always be things that people can’t agree on, and those things usually revolve around politics and theology. How do you react to others when in disagreement? Do you simply blow them off as uneducated or not compassionate? Is your reaction in disagreement one that would invalidate someone’s feelings?
I have thought long and hard about how I invalidate people, and about times I may not have even realized I was doing it. Those are the times I feel horrible about. The times when I thought I was listening and caring, but probably wasn’t enough and gave off a message that I did not value the other person. I pray that I can receive forgiveness for the times I invalidated people and their beliefs or feelings.
One moment of validation I felt just today was when a church member asked for a copy or notes of my sermon from last week on the Transfiguration. I was very worried about that sermon and took a lot of time to get it done, and to find out that this person wanted a copy to put with other sermons he enjoyed, really validated my work and my presence in that community. Too often, I think, leaders feel they are not validated and then do not return validation to others.
I pray that each of you realize you are validated by God, through Jesus, and can find peace and happiness this season.
Grace and Peace,