I imagine at some point in your life, you have, like me, gone to a restaurant, movie, or hospital and pulled into a parking garage. After parking your car, you take your ticket to the proper authority and get it stamped. That little imprint means free parking. As long as the ticket is validated, you don’t have to pay.
I think many of us spend a major portion of our lives trying to “validate our parking tickets.” We move from job to job or relationship to relationship looking for that elusive stamp of approval. Sometimes even within our own families we struggle to see where we “fit.” We search for something beyond ourselves to authenticate our right to be parked on the planet. Often our quest is fueled by past wounds. Powerfully depicted in movies from Citizen Kane to Social Network, it’s clear that no amount of success or wealth can compensate for the need to “prove we’re somebody” to those who have hurt us.
Sadly, our longing for validation can lead us into an ongoing preoccupation with self. We begin to feel unsatisfied unless we’re influencing others, irritated with people who don’t approve of us, and discontented with those who fail to recognize our work.
It’s all backwards….
When Jesus told the adulterous woman to “go and sin no more” he was able to separate who she really was from her lifestyle (John 8:11). He demonstrated that her identity was no longer bound to her failures. His affirmation satisfied her more than any man’s embrace ever could. The search for her niche was over. Living it began. She experienced a “double stamp on her ticket.”
There’s no sin in needing affirmation. Yet our true identity lies in neither our failures nor our successes. So no matter how many times we get our parking ticket validated by man, we will come up short…unless we go to the real source of validation. To our Creator. Our Redeemer. He paid an incredible price to give us the authentication we crave.