Validate My Story

Besides working as a Resource and Referral Specialist, another one of my important roles in life is to be a mother to two wonderful children. As anyone who takes part in teaching children knows, it can be relentless work. I succeed most in my role when I can remember that, I too, fumbled to reach the same developmental milestones my children are facing. Last week, my son was distraught because my daughter did not hear and believe his side of a story. His side of the story: he was the one who had created the object and felt frustrated she didn’t believe him. Her side: she didn’t believe him and reminded him of the importance of “agreeing to disagree”. As I listened to all of this unfold I was reminded of the importance of our stories being heard and validated. My son was hoping that I could convince my daughter to believe him, and I assured him that I could not. Having one’s story heard and validated is a gift, and it can’t be forced or coerced. In my role as R&R Specialist, I hear many stories of people’s lives, and I often get the opportunity to give people the gift of hearing and validating their experiences. There is only so much evidence I can gather to validate a person’s experience. In the end, I have to choose to trust the person’s story. This happened just last week, when someone was stranded in New Buffalo and needed gas to get to his job. This, of course, does not mean that we yield to a person’s every request. We have limits and boundaries, but every time the opportunity presents itself, Neighbor by Neighbor gives the gift of a person’s story being heard and validated. There are people in the world who have yet to be given the gift of having their story heard and validated. As I recently learned from a wise person, it is important to error on the side of generosity in new relationships. Time will allow truth to unfold. May we, in our daily life and work, be generous in hearing and validating people’s stories.

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