There I am walking down the street in the middle of the night. The glorious night sky fades behind the dim lights of the street lamps and I think to myself that this is an accurate reflection of my feelings tonight. I know there is something out there shining brighter than the lights of this city, but whatever it is seems too far away to enlighten me now.
I shift to the right as a girl approaches from the direction of campus. Her high-heeled boots clack with the determination of a student with an impending deadline. In contrast, my runners shuffle along directionless. As she nears I look up and focus my gaze to where I hope I can catch hers. In my mind I picture a brief moment where our eyes lock and she gives me a slight smile as if she intimately knows the pain and confusion I feel ; she wants me to know that it will get better. Back to reality…She is getting nearer and nearer and…she walks right on by without so much as a sideways glance. I turn away embarrassed and frustrated. Why did I think she would even notice me anyways?
When I look back on my life, moments like this one stand out because they reveal a deep longing. In that moment I was looking for an invitation. I wanted someone to invite me to share my true story with all of the sin and brokenness characteristic of human life. I wanted to be known. I wanted someone to be able to say “I know how messed up that guy is and I still love him.”
We all want to be known. The problem is that we cannot truly trust anyone to accept us after we have spilled our true thoughts and feelings on the ground. The simplest solution is to step into the role of a character we deem acceptable. Maybe we will be accepted as an athlete or a comedian. Maybe we will get friends if we party more or go on more dates. We walk around like actors playing the role of a lifetime; never breaking character even for a second. If anyone were to truly find out who we are they would surely never accept us. We believe that who we are is not as acceptable as whom we act like.
This, however, is a fake acceptance. We are not truly being accepted for we are, but for whom we want everyone to see. I can say that I love Benedict Cumberbatch, but I really only love Sherlock Holmes. Mr. Cumberbatch is a regular human being, and that is simply not as interesting as a brilliant and narcissistic detective. In much the same way, when we are accepted for who we appear to be, we are not accepted for who we truly are. Therefore, we are not accepted at all.
I have discovered that true acceptance is found in Jesus Christ. The Bible speaks about Jesus, the Son of God, coming down to earth to live among men by taking on the form of a man (Phil. 2:6-8). He goes out of his way to understand everything that we go through and he meets with us in the mess of our lives. He sees through the characters we portray and loves us despite knowing who we truly are. He is the one inviting us to honestly admit that we have wronged God with our sinful thoughts and actions.
In a very real way it is comforting to know that Jesus knows all of my hidden thoughts and actions. He knows how arrogant and ignorant I am. Jesus knew all of my failures and the ways I have wronged Him and yet He still chose to take upon Himself the judgment of God I deserve for all of my sin, so that now I am washed clean and accepted by God (Rom. 5:6-11)! He shows me that it is not who I am or what I have done that has earned His acceptance. Rather, it is who he is and his rescuing love for me that makes me accepted by God. He was rejected, so I could be accepted.
What is keeping you from experiencing true acceptance?