All of us were made with the longing to be accepted and feel like we belong. It is the way the Lord created us. Ultimately, we know only full, complete acceptance and belonging comes through a deep, abiding relationship with Jesus Christ. Only He can fulfill those deep longings for love, belonging, and acceptance.
However, Jesus himself came to earth to teach us how to live here. He showed us through His perfect example on earth how to perfectly relate and live with one another. Just because it seems complicated or too overwhelming doesn’t mean we don’t try. Will we ever do it perfectly like Jesus did? No way! Do we give up because we can’t meet that perfection? No way! We continue to live in His mercy and grace and strength every day, under His easy burden, doing the best we can do through the power of surrendering to the Holy Spirit every day. We say: “Not my will, Lord, but Yours.”
Accepting others just the way they are and how God made them is a very hard thing to actually do. We have many high expectations for people we encounter every day—friends, extended family, even Christians. We may have even higher expectations for the people in our core family: our husband and our children. When these expectations are not met, we can become very discouraged and lose hope. It can cause much friction in relationships. But where we have to start is with acceptance.
Jesus had the ability to be honest, but He was also able to communicate His love in the same breath. He confronted His disciples many times about jealousies, or lack of faith, or disloyalty. However, they never seemed threatened by that. I think it was because they knew, without a shadow of a doubt, that He accepted them and loved them right where they were. He knew and had faith that one day they would be what He desired for them. So even though He might have criticized them, they also knew He was speaking to them in love, and that He accepted them.
I think about the people in my life who I feel like I can really go to and be completely honest with, who I can be myself with no facade. They are people who have been hurt or frustrated by me, people who have seen my “nasty” side, people who know my struggles. Yet they extend me much grace and acceptance. And despite my many shortcomings, I feel like I can go to them again and again and be accepted despite my many “screw ups”. I desire this kind of relationship with others, with my husband, and especially with my children. I have to work really hard to try to accept people this way. I think we all do.
Making others feel accepted allows them to feel safe and feel like they can express themselves in whatever way. This is such an important part of loving others well! We know that we can come to God in any way and He will accept us. We can come to Him an emotional wreck, we can come to Him angry, we can come to Him mean and upset, we can come to Him sad and depressed, it doesn’t matter. He will never reject us or demand that we “straighten up” or “get control of ourselves” or say the right things before we come to Him. Isn’t that wonderful? We will never completely be like the Lord is in this respect. But we strive to live like this, accepting people where they are, especially the people we live with day to day, like our husband, our children, and those the Lord has put in our lives.
God willed and planned our being, as well as every single person on this planet. He sees our uniqueness as promising. It is with this in mind that we must accept others as who they are first and foremost. It is a big key in learning to love others well and have meaningful relationships with others.