Acceptance

I learned young you should push back on areas you don’t like about yourself.  For example, I don’t like that I get overwhelmed easily, so I’ll pretend I don’t feel overwhelmed.  Then struggle and toil against that overwhelming feeling, that is one hundred percent human, and typically make myself more overwhelmed.

So I’m writing this for me today, I hope you get something too.

I think at the heart of the gospel is acceptance.  I think of the woman who had bled for years without any relief, I think of the man with leprosy who was not accepted by society, both completely accepted by our Savior.  And the Samaritan woman at the well who had five husbands and was living with another man, she was cast aside by her community, but totally accepted by her Savior.  Embraced.

We can’t surrender what we haven’t accepted has happened.  But when we believe we will be accepted by our Savior, we can accept some hardships ourselves.  Because He accepts us today, tomorrow, forever.  That acceptance is what can change this heart of stone into something beautiful.

I believed for a long time that I just had to “look good” for God.  That’s not what He wants.  He wants me to come, be seen, and known for exactly who I am, a sinner-then I can leave accepted, loved, cherished, whole. And this isn’t just for me, but for my neighbor too.

I don’t have this all figured out, but I know the times I resist accepting help, accepting truth, accepting love, accepting grace, or accepting joy I make my life harder.  It’s like going against the current.  It’s hard to withstand.  Until you lose your grip and you’re sure you’ll drown, but all of the sudden those truths pull you up and you accept them.

Then they move into your heart, and they start to come out of you.

He’ll do that- He will accept you, all your faults, failures, all the good things you think you’ve done.  He accepts it all.

Is there a piece of your past that you cannot accept?  It will not kill you.  Freedom comes from being freed from something.

Is there a part of yourself you distain?  Trust me, it’s the part that can makes you real to others.

Is there a part of your family that hurts too bad?   Accepting it can make it hurt less, because then you can move beyond yourself and into love.

Acceptance doesn’t mean condoning.   Acceptance means once we do, we can ask for help.  We can move.  We are no longer stuck.  We can use our resources.  But there are very few resources to the one who “has it all together.”

Don’t be the one who “has it all together” its a lonely place to be.  Real matters.  Real is the best way.

You are accepted.  Live out of that truth.

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Faithful, not perfect

I’ve confused these two words a lot.  Faith.  Perfect.

I thought Abraham was perfect.  I thought David was perfect.  But when we look at their stories they really weren’t perfect.  They did some messed up things, but God still used them.  So how were they righteous?  Not by their own merit.  Not by their acts.  But their faith.  Not in themselves.  But in their God.

See when you are an achiever like myself, it’s easy to confuse faith with achievement.  It’s a belief wrapped up that says, “I’ll show you God why you want to use me…” and “I’ll teach your people to get it together.”  But faith is not within ourselves.  Isaiah says, “even our righteous acts are like filthy rags to God.”  I think because even our good acts are compromised by our humanness.  And when we teach people to achieve and try hard to be perfect, we teach others to become Pharisees.

Pharisees hurt the people that were following them by placing unbearable burdens and laws on their followers that were impossible.  I’m sure a lot of people stepped away from this walk and were judged harshly by the Pharisees because “they couldn’t cut it.”

I’m challenging this belief in myself because it has no merit in the gospel.  It’s the opposite.  God does not desire for us to live perfect lives.  But to realize in Christ we already are perfect before Him because of what Jesus did on the Cross.

Now we get to live messy, stumble, get up, and move forward in grace and love.  Not in works and achievements we once so desired.

James 2 makes it clear that God honors works, but James 1 declares we are free from this law.  So we have the freedom to serve and to live out our faith.  God calls us to work, but maybe in a simpler way.  A way that takes the impossible burdens off our shoulders to do it all, to hold everything up, to keep everything in line, and instead move with grace and love and pour that out instead of burdensome living.

Because if you are like me, its easier to measure our works.  But a heart changed by God is a miracle.  One we cannot do.  And I want that for others, not a burdensome living that is impossible to measure up to, but a life that is free.  Free to serve.

Faith, not perfection, in a God who is true and honest and pure.  He wants our faith in Him and He will move mountains.

Oh help us to see Lord.