Hey y’all it’s Wednesday!!! So that means it is time to fellowship. Fellowship always seems to fall on a Wednesday am I right? Why is that do you think? I have an idea but that’s a topic for another post. 🙂
I was awakened this morning about 2:30 AM and during that time I perused my social media. Nothing abnormal there, happens every day just about. I came across a post on FB of a subject that I told myself I would not write about here on my blog. However, I noticed something about this post that really made me feel compelled to talk about it for one major reason, VALIDATION.
I am all about encouraging one another. In a world full of hate, hurt and discouragement it takes no effort and cost nothing to encourage/validate someone. Why be hateful, hurtful, and downright mean? What does one benefit from being this way, and what benefit is it to the subject of one’s rudeness?
Filled with so many questions, let me set the scene. I follow a page on FB that is mostly about recipes and fun stuff you can do with your kiddos, but for some reason yesterday they shared an article about Fibromyalgia and how to cope with some of the symptoms that come along with it. This isn’t their normal type of posts, but it attracted me. I myself suffer from fibromyalgia and I do not share this to throw a pity party but because I have been on both sides of the comment debate that ensued from this article.
A simple article that was meant to be informative and hopefully of some help to someone, resulted in anger, hate filled comments, name calling and slinging around of cusswords. Some comments were “I suffer from this and it is really debilitating” and others were to the effect of “these lazy, fat, unhealthy eating people just want narcotics and a disability check instead of exercising and eating healthy.” Why? Just, why? What purpose did that nasty comment serve?
To be honest I wish I could say with a pure heart I have never said or thought those things myself, but I have. What did I gain from it? Nothing I was just being a jerk. Did it help the other person? Ummm no! It is very like me to have to experience things for myself before I actually believe them, and this time was no different. Until I couldn’t make it through a trip to the grocery store without leaving in tears from not being able to walk, I didn’t understand. Until I was told with a straight face by a person close to me, that I just needed to LOVE myself more and my pain would go away, I didn’t understand. Let me share this with you, there is nothing more belittling to a person you care about, than to dismiss a health issue that they have because you don’t know about it or understand it. This isn’t limited to just fibromyalgia, it could include: depression, bi-polar, other mental health issues, or any health issue for that matter.
I feel like I could give 101 examples of how I have been discouraging to friends when they have reached out to me. I didn’t understand their situation, feelings, or choices. So I chimed in with my 2 cents thinking what I had to say might help. I am aware now how I hurt those relationships because they weren’t looking for my thoughts and experiences. But I am a fixer, so I wanted to fix their problems with my advice. All they were seeking was an open ear and validation.
Let me differentiate between validating one’s situation, behavior or feelings and condoning it. Condoning means you allow and accept it. Validating means you to support the truth or value of. You can validate your friend’s feelings without condoning them. Besides, who are we to say that our friend does or does not actually feel a certain way? We do not live inside their body or mind so we cannot say that the way they feel is not real just because we don’t understand it or haven’t experienced it. Our friends (insert category here, family, co-worker) feelings are theirs, it belongs to them, if they share it with us it is not our place to tell them they are wrong. It is however our place to encourage them. In 1 Thessalonians 5:11 Paul writes, “So encourage each other and build each other up.”
I know I went all over the place today, but let me leave you with this. You only know and understand feelings and circumstances according to YOUR life experiences. Please don’t belittle and invalidate someone else’s feelings and circumstances that you don’t understand. That only builds a wall around them, your relationship and adds to their pain. Just because we haven’t experienced something doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
What do you validate a friends feelings without necessarily condoning it? Join in the conversation by leaving a comment below!
*Objective viewpoints are accepted, however if a negative comment is directed towards a person/group, not the topic if will be immediately deleted and commenter will be blocked.