Lately, I have had the occasion to talk with an unusually large number of people seeking validation. They have mostly been unplanned, casual occurrences at a party where someone sees your collar and recognizes you as a representative of the Church. (Come to think of it—that probably has never happened to any of you J.) You get what I mean, though. In our times there are so many things bombarding us at all times. We have to run the gamut of everything from religious affiliation to sexual orientation and everything in between, and we all just want to know where we fit in. I have recognized a common theme, though.
We all just want to be accepted and feel loved. This, in itself, is a good and holy desire. What I have noticed, though, is that many times we try and find this love and acceptance in things outside of God. St Paul tells us, “If God is for us who can be against us…what will separate us from the love of Christ?” In this he is couching our whole identity in the fact that God has loved us, end of story! If you think about it, it makes sense. As important as all our self-identifiers are, they can only lead to a partial identity. Political party will never bring you to perfect happiness, and race, color, creed or orientation will only be able to encompass a small facet of you, but the love of God is all pervasive.
If one truly recognized the love God has for them, they wouldn’t need the validation of His minister. If God is fine with what you believe or how you live or what you do, then what could I possibly say that would matter one way or the other? No--my guess is that all this identity crisis stems from something much deeper. I think deep down we might not all be sure that God does approve of what we believe, the way we live, or what we do. There really is only one answer to this. You have to ask Him! If you are really and truly talking to God He won’t lead you astray. If He tells you something is OK, why look any farther? You should be perfectly at peace. If peace isn’t there, maybe you need to ask Him again until you find it. He is not a God of anxiety, so whenever you find anxiety in life, that’s not God.
Fr Joseph Altenhofen