21: Who Jesus Says We Are: Approved & Accepted

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 presetThe headlines scroll at an ever faster pace. Another child has been bullied to death, for something as simple as liking a certain cartoon. A hilarious and talented celebrity is found dead, and in the days following, his inner battle is revealed. These are the extremes, but if we get down to the heart of the matter, we all have parts of ourselves that we fear others won’t accept. When we live in a world that expects us to cram ourselves into the preferred mold, it becomes all too easy to believe that we won’t be approved or accepted if we are vulnerable in showing others who we really are. It becomes deadly.

We’re taught from the very beginning to pick out the thing that is different, and that you have to be strong and tough and not rock the boat too much. Perhaps we are simply caught up in the natural progression, because as adults, we see the same scenarios playing out in politics, in elementary schools, in Hollywood, and in churches. We learn swiftly to leave our eccentricities and our messy parts at the door, and fall in line with the expectations of society to be the funny one, the smart one, the easy going one, the one that has it all together. And more often than not, if our messiness does find the light of day, we’re identified as the messy or imperfect one. But the truth is, these molds only make it more difficult to be our true, multi-faceted selves.

We learn to gauge whether or not we are lovable by how well we can meet the standards of other people. We learn to be afraid. We learn to hide. Even in our relationship with God.

I’ve heard countless stories, from Christians and non-Christians alike, about feeling like they have to have everything together before they can approach the throne of grace. Perhaps you have heard them, too. Stories about needing to get their marriage right, quit a bad habit, make the right grades, you name it.

Even the things that aren’t perceived as inherently negative can often feel like too much of a risk to bring up.

I wrote, back on day thirteen, that we struggle with the idea of being known, and how scripture says that God knows us so intimately that they very number of hairs on our heads are counted.

For the most part, its easy to believe that God loves us. He’s God — He is love. But it is so much more difficult to believe that He actually likes our quirks and eccentricities, to believe that He takes us just as we are.

Not in spite of our perceived inadequacies or weaknesses, but because of them. Not because of our own strength or abilities, but because of the work of Christ on the cross. Because when we bring our whole selves to the altar, God is able to do infinitely more than we could ask or imagine. Not only does He expand His kingdom in our hearts as individuals, but He expands His kingdom in the world.

My friend Aliza shared a verse on this very topic, and is giving away this lovely printable on her blog.

The Conversation Starts Here: 

What is your definition of fitting in? How has it changed as you have grown?

What is something about yourself that you feel prevents you from fitting in?

{Leave your questions + answers + thoughts in the comments below.}

walk

 

Some Fine Print:

This is the twenty-first of thirty-one installments to be posted throughout the month of October.
To view the entire table of contents as it is made available, click here.
You can receive the entire series in your inbox for free by subscribing via email (no spam, just my heart by way of weblog).
Please feel free to pass these words along to a friend. Sharing is caring!

  • I love this post! I work with teenage girls, and trying to meet the standards of other people gets really bad during the high school years and continues to adulthood. I pray that many find encouragement through your series. And thanks for stopping by my blog!

  • Tara Ulrich

    Beautiful post! I think sometimes I don’t for in because I am a single 36 year old. I am not married. I don’t have children. I often can be the fifth wheel and that makes me uncomfortable. But I have amazing friends who love me for me. They get me and that feels so very good. I think you are right on…it’s so important for us to teach at a young age that we are each unique and beloved children of God with different gifts and abilities!