As I was thinking about what I would write for the month of November, I was engaged in one of my favorite pass times which is listening to a podcast of one of my favorite Pastors, Charles Stanley. He called his sermon “The Power of Acceptance” which is the title I gave to my previous blog post. So now, here I am again writing about the importance of acceptance, true acceptance.
There are many of us who have been broken by circumstances of life, and by the consequences of our decisions. There are others, who hold on to high esteem to avoid the pain of rejection. In either case, the solution is receiving acceptance, not based on performance or status, but on just being a person.
The stress and strain of trying to live up to the expectations of others, whether it is a parent, spouse, boss, or any person or persons of importance, can cause anxiety and/or depression in anyone. As a counselor, and in my own life, I witness this often. When this happens, there is a vicious cycle of decline that either manifests into rebellion against the perceived source of stress, or great diligence and pride in living up to the standards of others while basing our worth on their praise and acceptance. How does this vicious cycle stop?
I have noticed in my conversations with those who have had some very unfortunate experiences in life, that it is easier to forgive others who have offended them, than for them to forgive themselves for their mistakes and shortcomings. Why is it so difficult for us to forgive ourselves when we fall short of our own expectations or that of others whom we respect? I venture to say that it is because of basing our worth and relationships on our performance, rather than acceptance based on identity.
Each of us have characteristics of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32) that I wrote about in previous blogs, or the Older Son who was able to meet his perceived expectations of his father, only to learn later that he, like his younger brother, was also loved unconditionally. Therefore, to get out of this cycle of brokenness and guilt, each of us must practice acceptance. Not just acceptance of others, but receiving acceptance, not based on performance, but simply based on “being”.
Jesus told His disciples: “Freely you received, freely give”. The greatest blessing that we can receive is God’s blessing of His Son Jesus Christ. By accepting this blessing of love from God, we can give it to others who will accept. However, if we have based our relationship with Him on our performance, we will require that of others before we can truly accept them.
Accepting freely from God, or even others in our lives may sound like an easy task, but is it really? The Apostle Paul addressed this issue in Galatians 3:3 as he reminded the Galatians that they did not receive the Spirit based on their works. I use this as a reference only to drive my point that we all get caught up into trying to prove ourselves for acceptance, but true acceptance starts with God and works its way through others. The more we remind ourselves of this acceptance from the Creator and Sustainer of life, the more we can pass it on to others, and recognize it from others which is extremely important if we are to have healthy relationships.
In conclusion, true acceptance is so powerful and necessary in our life if we are to have the peace and joy we were intended to have. Why pass it up? Start by receiving or reaffirming the free love that God gives to all through His Son Jesus Christ. Allow that free love and acceptance to circulate through your being so the vicious cycle that results in excessive stress, anxiety, or depression will cease.