I accept the fact that I’m never going to be an Olympic Athlete.
I don’t like it, but I accept it.
I accept the fact that my sons will never play Major League Baseball. I always hoped they would continue their baseball careers after Little League, but they just didn’t want to continue. I wish they had, but they just didn’t want to.
I accepted the package the UPS man handed to me. It was addressed to me, and I had ordered it, so I took it and claimed it as mine.
I accepted the change the cashier at the grocery store gave me. It was due me and he was handing it to me, so I accepted it.
We use the term “accepted” in many different arenas these days, and I think there might be a misconception about what it means.
Acceptance does not mean that you agree with everything a person does; but it does mean that you love them for who they are. I can say that I accept my husband the way he is, but if I see something in his life that needs addressing, I am going to bring it up.
I heard a wonderful message years and years ago by one of my favorite pastors, Chuck Swindoll. He titled the message “Love, Sweet Love.” At one point he listed the ABCs of love: I Accept you as you are, I Believe that you are valuable; I Care when you hurt; I Desire what is best for you; I Erase all wrongs.
Now, it has been a really long time since I listened to this message, but even without it right before me, I’m thinking I have those right.
What everyone wants to feel is that they are accepted and that they are valuable. But if someone is participating in a behavior that I don’t think is healthy, I am not going to accept the behavior, but I AM going to accept them. It is they who are valuable, not their behavior.
I think many times we equate the behavior with the person. My kids would get mad at one of their siblings and say, “He’s so mean!” I would say, “No, he is not mean. What he did was not kind, and could even be called mean, but he is not mean. He just did something that was unkind.”
I didn’t want the behavior to define the person.
Labels of any kind can be dangerous for people. The beauty queen, the smart one, the loser, the one we can count on, the one we worry about. These can define a person; but they are not who that person is at their very core.
But it’s much easier to stick a label on someone than to spend time getting to know who they really are. Does the child who struggles in school deserve to be labeled as “slow” or “dumb”? Does the person with amazing athletic talent deserve to be labeled as a jock? Is that performance or behavior going to define them for the rest of their lives?
I accept you as you are, and I believe that you are valuable.
You are too valuable to be accepted solely on the virtue of your behavior or your performance. Those things can change over the years. When I am no longer able to throw a football downfield to a receiver or run a mile in record-breaking time, that label of “athlete” becomes useless to me.
Acceptance means that I see you for who you really are. I believe you have value because you are an image bearer of God.
That’s a label that never changes.