Self-acceptance is one of those universal human issues that Christians aren’t supposed to talk about because, as we all know, we shouldn’t be worried about “self” anymore.
And therein lies the problem — not the worrying about ourselves, but in the “shouldn’t be worried about” part that so consistently trips us up in our walk with God.
We’re not supposed to do this. And we’re not supposed to think that. And we really shouldn’t/oughtn’t/mustn’t have a problem with this or that or the other.
All of these control words add up to muddy our thinking when it comes to who we are, what we are, and just who loves us or cares about us, the most important person being God Himself.
Think about it: wasn’t the promise of God’s love (and acceptance) one of the major draws when you thought about becoming a Christian? When you became a believer, was it on the basis of sheer unadulterated intellectual logic, or was there a teensy weensy bit of hope that Someone big, powerful, protective, and perfect not only made you, but loves you?
We Love Being Loved
I love being loved, and have been blessed by a husband, progeny, and
extended family that is noisy, chaotic, creative, energetic and loving. On a recent birthday, my best presents were phone calls, Facebook messages, and in-person interactions with people who truly smile when I walk into the room, as I do when I see them. Our unconditional love — imperfect as it is — runs both ways, and I learn more about how my Father sees me by the way my heart melts when I hug one of my children than I do by all the sermons on a sea of Sundays (or Saturdays, if you prefer).
Family and friends — and especially young children — are walking, visual PowerPoint presentations that God has put into our lives to show us what love, and acceptance, look like. Anyone who has been around the average toddler knows that they can be demanding, unreasonable, immature, and shortsighted; we also know that these traits, which are in line with their age and maturity, are not a basis for rejection.
We Accept Rejection Too Easily
And yet, we accept rejection from God all the time, convinced that we messed up so badly today — what did we do? Were we impatient? Did we cut off another driver in traffic? Fall asleep instead of do our daily devotion? — that He cannot look on us without revulsion.
1 John 4:18-19 reassures us that we do not have to walk around God in fear and trepidation all the time, as if He were some psychotic, unreasonable middle manager consistently picking at us and finding fault:
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
“We love because he first loved us.”
That last sentence is a biggie, and well worth running through our minds, again and again and again, until it sticks.
We Can’t, and Don’t, Earn His Love
He loved us. First. While we were still creepy. While we were still disinterested in anything He had to say or offer. While we were unpleasant and unapproachable and overweeningly proud and stuffed up about our amazing-ness and our lack of need for something as archaic and intellectually demeaning as God.
And when we turned to Him and said, “Oh yes, please, LOVE me!” nothing changed. God didn’t suddenly attach caveats and conditions to that love of His, but we did, becoming aware of outside voices telling us that we “need” to do this and we “ought” to do that or else . . .
God won’t love us anymore.
Don’t listen to these voices. When you hear them, take them straight to God with the question, “What about this? What do you want me to do? Lead me. Show me. Love me.”
That’s what He wants — moment by moment communion and our total dependence, and trust, upon His love and guidance. He accepts us, and realizing this is the first, and most crucial, step toward our accepting ourselves.
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Posts similar to this one are
Accepting Ourselves (at my sister blog, This Woman Writes)
What Unconditional Love Looks Like (at This Woman Writes)