By: Fran Bulloff, VTI President
I hear the word “ faith” used around me more than ever these days: “I don’t have faith in our leaders,” “I am putting my faith in the doctors,” and “ I believe in God and my faith will sustain me.” As I investigated the origin and meanings of the word “faith,” I found two very different concepts.
The word “faith” is originally derived from the Latin word “fides,” which later morphed into “feid” in Old French, and then finally “faith” in Middle English. Most of us would say faith means trust, confidence, or a belief. Those are synonymous with the quotations above. However, a closer look at the Merriam-Webster Dictionary shows two separate meanings: 1. Complete trust or confidence in someone or something. 2) Strong belief in God or in the doctrines of a religion, based on spiritual apprehension rather than proof. A system of religious belief, a strongly held belief or theory.
The first definition has nothing to do with religion or spirituality. It is simple confidence or trust in a person, an organization, or perhaps a method of doing something. The second definition is closely tied to religious belief which transcends facts or science. This simple word can be used so differently.
Some of our Authorized Validation Organizations (AVOs) are located in secular health care communities, while others are in faith-based memory care facilities. The latter encompass a wide variety of different religious faiths and practices all over the world. Validation is at home in both the secular and religious settings.
While Validation has no affiliation with any specific religious group, it is compatible, respectful, and complementary with all of them. How can that be? Validation is a method of communication which builds trust and respect between disoriented elderly adults and their caregivers. When you have trust and respect, you have a bond of faith between people which helps break down boundaries and can facilitate resolution of troubling late life personal issues. Often a participant in a Validation group begins sitting in silence until he or she eventually feels trust and confidence that unlocks expression. Some family members have even called the verbal change “ a miracle.”
Maybe it is powerful and miraculous, but it results from applying proven Validation techniques. Having faith in a higher Power can give an individual the strength to face difficult personal challenges, turn despair to joy, feel love and a sense of belonging. These are also core values of Validation. A special thank you this week to all who are providing spiritual comfort to others in these troubling times.