Acceptance. Wow. What does it mean to feel accepted? This need of ours as human, emotional beings is majorly overlooked in the daily forefront of our minds, yet there it is… not just a desire to feel accepted, but a need to be accepted.
Maybe one of the reasons that we often starve, and hurt inside for this need is how we view ourselves, and those around us. We feel rejected, criticized, and often live under the weight of trying to impress others with our intelligence, works, education, money, and even how effectively we relate to others, all to gain something to feed this hunger for others to accept who we are. We toil daily under a weight of the fear of rejection, and we put on masks so that others will accept us. And, oh my, the need of acceptance can NEVER be met by someone accepting us for the mask we wear, because that deep, down need will never be met when we know really it’s only the mask they approve of… our courage to be vulnerable is squashed as we fear others seeing the true “me.” And, maybe this all stems from a mis-interpretation, I think, of how we receive one another, and even how we receive our own selves. We often place our approval ratings on what we can accomplish, and not simply who we are. And, yes, there is a difference.
We have learned in our culture to be human-doings rather than human-beings. What about a busy, vibrant young mother who finds herself with a debilitating disease? She cannot care for her children in the same way as before, and even herself. Has her value changed because she cannot “do” anymore? Then, there is our dear friend, who is an older veteran who served his country with passion and protection. He now is seeing the sunset of life, and is confined to a chair, communication even difficult for him. Is his value different than in the years before? When we think about examples like these, it is easy for us to see the answer! It makes it so clear. Of course, the value is not determined by what they do! What about the weak, strong, blind, young, old, prideful, rich, poor, crippled, athletic, homeless, well-spoken…? What about me, what about you? Is our value placed within the external acts? All human life has its worth determined by our Maker. Our worth is not diminished or increased by what we do (or don’t do!), it is simply who we are.
We can accept one another, not because the other gets it right, or wrong in our view. And, we can even accept ourselves because we meet all the criteria necessary to be “ok.” We are accepted because we are an amazing creation. Made in the image of God! Eternal beings that are a miracle from conception! You were never an accident, and your very breath was breathed into you by an all-powerful God with purpose! Wow! I don’t have to jump through your hoops, or ring my bells just right to be accepted.
Accepting one another may look like, “You might make mistakes, but that doesn’t make you a mistake! Your wrong behavior doesn’t make you wrong, my friend. Let me walk beside you, and help change behaviors that are hurtful for you.”
“Even though you’re not perfect, I’m not either – we are in this together! The welcome mat is still out for you.”
“We might disagree, but that doesn’t change how valuable you are, and how important it is to hear what you have to say.”
“You don’t have to do anything for me know that you are valuable. You are. Just as you are.”
Giving a sense of consistency in your care for them – “I’m in this for the long haul! Ups and downs!”
Sometimes we might see the need for acceptance met in unhealthy ways, such as gangs, cults, or maybe as we see in all of us, the propensity to “group thought,” rather than knowing our own core, personal thoughts and beliefs with the freedom to be ourselves.
Who meets your need for acceptance today? Is it even being met, or do you feel the pangs of starvation? Is it met in an unhealthy way by those who aren’t really nourishing your soul?
It’s our job to find ways to meet these needs in our own lives. Just like it’s my job to drink up on the H2o, we have to own this need, and look for the people in our lives that can meet this need, and fill up a bit of our accepted tank.
And, as an important side note, remember our little ones. We do have the responsibility to meet this need in their lives. Just as a two year old won’t be able to meet her needs of nutrition for her growth, she also doesn’t have the means or ability to find ways to meet this need for acceptance. And, it is oh-so important for our littles. What an honor that we can serve our little ones in this vital way!
Let’s remind ourselves and others; We aren’t production machines whose value is placed by performance. Our worth has been determined and set by our Maker.
So, who can we offer the gift of acceptance to today, and how can we care for this need in our own life?
Would love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks for joining the conversation! This is the second post from this series of talking about our human basic emotional needs.
Some of the concepts discussed were taken from writing by the Center for Relational Care, Robert McGee, Abraham Maslow, and more. Bible verses; Psalm 139:13-16, Romans 8:32, 1 Samuel 16:7, 1 John 3:16-17, Genesis 1:27-28, Colossians 3:12-14.