Do you remember the agony of waiting to get picked? You lined up in gym class wishing not to hear your name last. The work or school project when the leader calls your name with enjoyment rather than obligation. It happens on the road trips filling the vans. We hide in the background wanting the drivers and riders to invite us exuberantly with them.
Getting picked indicates our sincere desire for acceptance. As adults, we still hope for the invitations. Not hearing our name still stings. Acceptance hangs in the balance of another’s decision of us.
Many of us work strenuously for it. We craft the perfect image of having everything together. We memorize our job resumes and accolades to add value. We rehearse our jokes to get the laugh. Sometimes, we even try to stand off in the background to play it cool. Often, we place unrealistic expectations by acts of kindness and giving gifts to maintain acceptance. Would anyone want us around if we could not benefit them?
Genuine acceptance cannot be earned, bought, or bargained. We cannot work to maintain it or defend it. Real acceptance results from grace from another. A person sees us authentically: the good, bad, and the ugly. And after seeing that, saying, “You are loved and cherished.”
John Lynch, Bruce McNicol, and Bill Thralll in The Cure discuss God’s acceptance of us in spite of our brokenness and sin. They make this observation:
…Any time I hurt another or make wrong choices, the home is not by attempting to cover up my failure through something I can do to pay God off. The home is not effort, not amends, not heroic promise. The way home is trusting what God paid to cleanse me
This life in Christ is not about what I can do to make myself worthy of His acceptance, but about daily trusting what He has done to make me worthy of His acceptance.
I wonder if we have lived most of our lives working towards acceptance that God has already given to us. Grace continuously reminds us of the Gospel. Out of Christ’s love for us we have experienced forgiveness and acceptance.
Each time we receive genuine acceptance from another or offer it to someone else, we extend what God has offered to us. The Gospel dispels any lie in us of maintaining or defending acceptance.
For those of us who struggle with acceptance, a few questions we can ask ourselves:
How do I try to earn acceptance from others?
What version of myself do I portray to gain acceptance?
How would my life change if I began to realize Christ’s acceptance in my life?
Who in my life genuinely accepts me as I am?
When we recognize the grace Christ offers from acceptance, we can then begin to experience life as He intended for us and in relationships with others.
Photo credit by Mayur Gala.