Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Validation


Giving someone the position to validate me is a sacred choice.  I do not want to go to everyone and their dog* to know if what I’m doing and how I’m doing it is valuable.  I want to go to my Cause. 

Listen:  "Beautiful to Him"
When I was a teenager I unconsciously gave this position to the boys I liked.  If they didn’t like me or if they said something negative about me my life was over.  It hurt really bad.  When we don’t have a trustworthy Cause, we end up being vulnerable to the judgments of others who are not capable of standing in that position for us.

The general Cause I have chosen to look to for validation is God.  When I identify a desire I want to obtain, I ask him for help.  I look to him for guidance in how best to make the journey from where I am now to where I want to get to.  I can sense his validation when I’m centered up on the pathway that ends in my desired destination.  I can sense the withdrawal of that validation when I pitter out or get distracted with lesser things.  I can sense his warning when I try to get there too fast or too aggressively. 

Listen: "I Will Pilot Thee" Roger Hoffman
For example, a few years ago I wanted to write a fiction story that was good enough to be published.  When the publishers rejected my work, I finally turned straight to my Cause, told him my desire, and asked him for help.  In hindsight, I can see that his help came immediately.  I received specific directions on what to study.  And as I studied, I sensed he had “remotely logged in” to my mind.  I was instructed on a daily basis.  I saw things in a way I had never seen them before.  And I’m telling you this was the most exhilarating experience in the entire world!  Every day was a total adventure.  So much light, so much love, so much Joy!  My life has never been the same since. 

Elder Dallin H. Oaks “Good, Better, Best”
But I can numb my ability to sense my Cause’s validation if, when things get tough, I turn to alternative Causes or substances.  If I pitter out because the journey seems too hard or too long, I may choose to go to lesser Causes with lesser desires that I can reach out and grab right now.  The conflict with filling my needs this way is that it is never enough and it never lasts.  I get this sick feeling afterwards and sometimes even during.  I want to emotionally puke.  And it just ends up clogging my sensors so I can’t sense his validation.

I’ve symbolically represented my most tempting alternative Causes as chocolate cake with ganache filling in past blog posts.  It’s not the chocolate cake.  It's relying on Causes for comfort that don't have sustainability or productivity.  For example, I’ve been working on a writing project for almost 8 years.  It actually began with those exhilarating experiences I just spoke of.  It’s been a very long journey.  The Joy has increased incrementally over time in continuity and intensity.  But there are some days when I think I’ll never finish.  I temporarily lose my faith, my hope.  I get down in the dumps.  And that’s when I hear those alternative Causes that have no sustainability or productivity calling to me.

Listen:  Sinéad O'Connor:  "Nothing Compares 2 U"

Since I experience Joy that is so utterly and completely satisfying with my Cause even though he does require me to struggle sometimes in order to grow, it’s pretty important to me to save that position of Evaluator and Comforter for him.



I have noticed that there is second type of Evaluation I also need to consider.  If my desire is to help my kids obtain their desires I need to LISTEN to them.  I need to objectively know from them if my methods are productive.  Are the stories I tell or the examples I give helping them identify their own personal desires?  Is what I teach assisting them in the attainment of their goals and the resolution of their conflicts?  Are the gifts I give them hitting the spot?  Is the service I provide them supporting them enough?  Is the way I validate them effective? 

I have realized that I need to balance these two types of validation.  This can be difficult to achieve.  Sometimes I look to my kids for my personal validation.  This turns everything upside down.  It makes me feel very insecure.  When my head's on straight I recognize they don't have the capacity to evaluate me accurately.  Giving them this role is inappropriate.  So I work to keep my Cause in the priority position.  He can evaluate me and my kids with precision.  I understand that I need to allow my kids to show me how I can best help them within my Cause’s parameters.


For example, when my oldest son, Aaron (now 21) was in high school he had many desires that he asked us parents for.  It was difficult to know which should be given to him, which we should require him to work for, and which we should try to dissuade him from altogether.  After consulting my Cause, I instructed Aaron that both he and I needed to keep a Desires Journal.  We wrote down all of his desires.

Game Time
I taught Aaron that his part of the deal was to keep all of his commitments in our family, in school, in church, at work, in the community with as much exactness as he knew how.  He was to do these things with faith that his parents and God would also do their part in helping him obtain the things he needed that he could not acquire himself (see Kid Report).  This meant he had to write down his desires then let go of them during "game time" and focus only on his part. 

Meetings = Time Outs
Every week we met together for a "time out from the game" to discuss how it was going:  Which desires had he obtained?  Which ones were we still working on?  How did he feel he was doing in his commitment keeping?

I was able to remember his desires much better.  Some I would pray for.  Some I helped him with.  Others I felt we needed to withhold even though we could provide them for him.

I watched him to see how he responded to this whole thing.  In the beginning I saw him visibly relax, which is what I had hoped for.  It comforted him to know that there was a way to obtain what he wanted, that his parents were on his side, and so was God.  It improved his commitment keeping.  He wasn’t perfect in it but I saw the internal muscles of intrinsic motivation begin to strengthen.  It also provided a way for him to keep track of all the desires he actually was given.  And to our amazement things started to just work out.  One by one, his desires were obtained.  We both experienced an increase gratitude.  And mine was both for him and for God.

One of his desires was a car.  We were struggling financially during this time so we didn’t have much choice of whether or not to help him out.  But within a few months of starting this process, my mom and step dad (bless their hearts!) called and offered us some money to buy him an inexpensive car.  When I sat down with him to tell him about this, he was full of wonder and amazement.  I saw that he knew then that God really was aware of him and that if he—Aaron—kept his commitments, God would take care of him.

This car story goes on from here too.  It was like God had something that he wanted cemented in Aaron’s mind.  I allowed Aaron to choose what car he would purchase with the money.  We shopped Craig’s List and test drove a number of them.  He was getting so anxious to find one because he realized the market was hot for the cost of car we were looking for.  We had already lost the bidding war on a few of them.  One night he hastily chose one that ended up being a total lemon and we could do nothing about it.  Money lost.
A few weeks (months?) later his uncle Allyn (bless his heart!) called and offered him a car that he wasn’t using.  Once again Aaron marveled (and so did I) at the patience and mercy God was showing him.  And that became his car for the rest of high school and his freshman year at college until he left for his mission.

Aaron played a vital role in helping me know what I could do to help him.  But you see how this needs to be counterbalanced by my Cause's will.  I didn't have the power to provide everything that Aaron needed on my own.  And I didn't want to spoil him with too much or starve him with too little.  I needed to find that balance and knew my Cause knew it.  The validation?  I could feel my Cause's approval throughout this entire process.  And to solidify that, five years later I see that Aaron's intrinsic motivation to keep his commitments in faith has become strong!  He is a young man I very much admire.  


*Special thanks to my mom for the phrase, “Everyone and their dog."