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Posts Tagged ‘acceptance’

Jo 23Recently, I overheard the following conversation:

‘Would you like some coffee?’

‘I usually don’t drink coffee. I’ve never liked it much, but I’m trying to get used to it.’

‘Um … why would you want to make yourself like coffee?’

‘Well … well, I want to be accepted!’

I tried to hide my smile because I would expect this type of behaviour amongst children, not grown adults, which these two definitely were! Our young grandson, for example, refuses to wear a particular beanie in his school colours anywhere—especially to school! And our youngest granddaughter, at four years of age, has very definite tastes in clothes and other attire—which usually means pink things or things that have pink in them. Recently too, she cried, covered her ears and ran and hid, after she managed to lose one of her pink earrings. When I tried to comfort her, she sobbed, ‘I can’t let anyone see me with only one earring in!’

Being accepted matters when you are four or six—and it matters even more for our two older granddaughters who are fifteen and twelve. Yet it doesn’t stop there, does it? At times, and in certain situations in particular, we all desire to be accepted by those around us. None of us wants to feel rejected, pushed to the fringes, not interesting enough or attractive enough or good enough to fit the bill. So we may choose to act differently or say what we think those around us want to hear—and close our mouths on the words we truly want to speak out but are afraid to, for fear of rejection.

Recently, I came across a situation just like this in John’s Gospel. In Chapter 9, Jesus heals a man born blind and, soon after, his parents are summoned to appear before the Jewish leaders to verify he was indeed blind and to explain how he can now see (18-23). They know that, if they say Jesus healed their son, they will be thrown out of the synagogue, so they feign ignorance. They do not want to risk acknowledging Jesus as the Christ, the coming Messiah, so leave their son to speak for himself. In that culture at that time, it would have been a fearsome thing indeed to have been thrown out of the synagogue, to be outcasts, unaccepted in their own community, so I empathise with them.

But I am aware I can also behave like them at times. I may choose to stay quiet when I know I should stand up for the things of God. Or I may decide to water down what I plan to say somewhere, in order to be more accepted. Yet in my heart, I know my worth does not come from pleasing others. Instead, it comes from God, who tells me deep down who I am, who knows everything about me, yet loves and accepts me because I belong to Jesus and believe he died for me.

He (Jesus) came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God … John 1:11-12

Now that would have to be best acceptance of all, don’t you think?

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Jo 23I’m not the most ideal of patients. I have too many things to do and think about to be hampered by any sort of malady. At the moment, with a moon boot still decorating my left foot as a result of an ankle injury, I am unable to drive and also find it difficult to walk any great distance. So what’s to be done? I can complain and feel annoyed about the situation—or I can accept it, live in the moment and see what interesting lessons God has for me, right where I find myself, boot and all.

I try to choose the second option—most of the time! As a result, I have gained a new appreciation of the horrors those early convicts must have gone through when they found themselves with a ball and chain attached to one ankle. Granted, my moon boot isn’t anywhere near as heavy or as crippling as this device must have been. But it has made me value more the privilege I normally enjoy of being able to move about free and unfettered—and to empathise with those who have an injury or disability that truly hampers them in an ongoing way.

And I am also learning a lesson of a different kind. As I complain about having to drag my cumbersome moon boot around everywhere and move more slowly than usual, I believe God is showing me that this situation in the natural or physical realm also applies in the spiritual. What sort of other weights am I dragging around unnecessarily? What heavy, cumbersome things am I tolerating in my life that shouldn’t be there at all? At least my moon boot is hopefully helping my ankle to heal properly.  But what things am I clinging to that hinder rather than help me live the way God desires me to live?

Hmmm. … Could God be gently highlighting how much time and effort I put into worrying about this and that, even to the point of causing good things to become a burden to me? Could my lack of faith in God be holding me back in certain areas? Could my busyness be stopping me from hearing God’s voice as clearly as I used to and from knowing with deep certainty the way forward in my writing and in my life in general?

In Hebrews 12:1, after reminding us about the wonderful heroes of the faith in times past, the writer states:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.

Run? I couldn’t physically do that at the moment, with my moon boot. Instead, I plod along. But what about spiritually? Am I plodding through my life when I could run much more freely, unfettered by things that so often consume and entangle me and do not honour God? Why not get rid of them and, instead, trust God to enable me to scale the heights (Ps 18:33) and to provide those straight paths for my feet (Ps 27:11)?

How about you? Are you learning some spiritual lessons too from those annoying little things in your life?

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We have quite a large back garden, spread over two levels and sloping down towards a creek. I love gardening, but rarely get time to do it. On the other hand, my husband hates it! He is prepared to do any heavy work involved, such as mowing, lifting bins of rubbish etc, but has some difficulty at times telling a weed from a ‘real plant’. The difference is that I grew up with a father who was an avid gardener and worked very hard at it, so that my sister and I often got to watch him and imbibe knowledge that way. My husband, on the other hand, definitely did not.

So what’s to be done? We could put more time and effort into gardening – but then I would get even less writing done than I do now. We could let the weeds hold sway – but I find it very difficult to look at a messy garden day in and day out. Or we could bite the bullet and move into a villa or unit with no garden at all to maintain. All these are quite drastic measures, however. Is there some ‘happy medium’ we could find instead?

I think I discovered the best ‘take’ on gardening, and weeding in particular, during a recent phone conversation with an older friend who lives in the Blue Mountains. She has a very large garden, but she is almost eighty years old and is a little beyond keeping it all tidy. Yet she seemed far from depressed as she described its messy state to me.

‘Oh well … I’m having a wonderful time right now watching all the weeds rejoice! They’re so happy no one is bothering them! The vegetables have gone to seed but then that’s good – we can use the seed another season. And it’s all very colourful – there is always something to look at.’

‘Watching all the weeds rejoice’ … I hadn’t thought of it that way exactly! It’s all a matter of perspective, isn’t it? We can choose either to see all the negatives of a situation and dwell on those, or instead focus on the positives and see God at work even in the ‘weeds’ of our lives. And it’s a matter of acceptance as well, I believe. My friend can’t do all that much about the weeds – so she sees them in a positive light, each one enjoying the warmer spring weather, breathing in the clean mountain air and almost defiantly rejoicing in their ‘moment in the sun’ while not being interfered with in any way.

And my friend displays more than a little sense of humour about the situation too – again such a vital ingredient in moving through life in a calm, unruffled way. She is at peace with herself, with God and with the world, including nature. She is determined not to let the weeds rob her of enjoying her garden and even sees in them a unique kind of beauty.

So I continue to learn from my wise friend. She teaches me, along with Paul, to say:

I have learnt to be content, whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty, I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation … (Phil 4:11-12)

May you too learn to watch your weeds rejoice with acceptance, peace and contentment!

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