Shame and Grace Part 13 - The Sweet Deal Of Acceptance

Jan 30

Shame and Grace Part 13 - The Sweet Deal Of Acceptance

Wed, 01/30/2013 - 19:14 — Thabo Mokete

If we hope to strike a deal with the problem of human insecurity, we will have to start at the beginning. Unconditional acceptance.

It has become clear, as Griffiths1 points out that the ultimate solution to human insecurity is a calming, liberating understanding of ourselves. An answer to the question why. However, it became impossible for us to reach that critical understanding of our own human nature while entertaining feelings insecurity and rejection at the same time. It is very difficult to love ourselves and be loved while entertaining a low self-esteem at the same time. No matter how much we read “For God so loved the world... in John 3:16, it could not make sense to our thinking. “What makes us so lovable”?1

The antidote to insecurity is not security. That is, we cannot solve our feelings of insecurity by changing those specific things that make us feel not acceptable. Those parts and things are there for a reason, they are part of design. If we go down that route, we will forever be changing things and not arriving at that sweet spot in our consciousness.

The antidote to insecurity begins with acceptance. Acceptance in spite of. Also, in spite of not understanding why. We don't have to know why before we can be accepted. As the spiritual song says, the answer to the question 'why' will come later2. What matters is to be grasped by this acceptance now.

The time has come for us to re-read the classic stories that Jesus told, especially that of the prodigal son.3 At the point of having lost everything, the young man had serious doubts about who he was. The life he lived was severely restricted. His happiness hinged on how much money he had. His acceptance in that society of friends was based on his ability to pay. Now that he had no money, the friends did not think twice about rejecting him. It was now only himself to negotiate with. Could he accept himself where others had failed to accept him? On the surface, he knew that he had a father, the same father that he left behind. However, his past actions brought him face to face with feelings of insecurity. Did he still qualify to be his father's son?

This question had a negative answer in him. In spite of his remorse and intention of turning around, he could not see past his feelings of insecurity. When he composed his speech and said “I am no longer worthy to be your son”, he was not being modest. That was the conclusion he had come to. In spite of the historical record that pointed to him being a son to his father, his own behaviour had shown the opposite. He had rejected and disowned his father.

His unresolved insecurity had led to its natural conclusion of a life of rejection. The same way he had rejected his father when he left, he now rejected himself. He could not accept himself to be a son to his father anymore. But we can see he could not reject himself completely either, for he still wanted to live and go back home. He still wanted life, but could not accept himself. That is the core of the insecurity of human beings. Of wanting life, but not having enough space in our minds to access it.

But as we read the story, right from the time he appeared on the horizon, the father could not sit and wait for him to arrive. From afar, he recognized him as his son. The son probably cold not understand why his father came running to him. He was far from clean. Yet his father embraced him, before he could even take a bath.

Insecurity was met by unconditional acceptance. The father did not ask him where he had been. Neither did he remind him of what he had said when he left.  Instead he called for celebration as quickly as possible! There is power and meaning in that story: Acceptance accepts us as we are or it is not acceptance.

We cannot deny the acknowledgement that we get from day to day which is conditioned by how good we look or how well we perform. There is a time and place for competition and performance. However, let us not fool ourselves when we have achieved top honours or when we look very beautiful that we have received genuine acceptance from life because of it. For as soon as the applause is done, another one more beautiful or more excellent comes to perform and gets honoured in our place.

Genuine acceptance comes to us. We do not go looking for it. If we go looking for it, we know it is not genuine acceptance but validation of our performance or looks. It can't get us very far. We are still haunted by insecurity.

This acceptance does not appear to us as long as we feel we can do something to be acceptable. As long as we think we can perform certain things to be right, we are in effect not accepting the acceptance.4

We may be in relationships where people work us night and day so we can be accepted by them. It is an ego trick. If we are looking for the real thing, it will not come from there. It comes to us from the place where we least expect it.

It is so amazing when we read the Gospel stories in the Bible. Jesus knew exactly who and what he was dealing with. He was not just dealing with people. He was dealing with human beings who were highly insecure. He never said a single accusing word. He never wanted their honour which was all based on what he was doing for them. He wanted none of the glory. To each and every one he gave the message of acceptance: Zaccheus, Mary the Magdalene, the woman at the well, the thief on the cross, his own biological mother at the wedding at Cana, etc. No one had to earn it from Him. Even as He died, he only had forgiveness for them. He gave them the gift of being known and accepted, in spite of.

The sweet deal that life gives us through insecurity is to bring us to that place where the veil of pride is removed from our eyes. Then we come face to face with unconditional acceptance. This acceptance had been there from the beginning of our lives, but was hidden by pride.

When the prodigal son came back, it became clear that the acceptance he got from his father was not conditioned by anything good or bad he had done. He simply was what he was: a son to his father. And this is who we simply are: our heavenly Father's children.5 We are unconditionally accepted by life itself.

Acceptance makes it possible for us to come out of denial. It opens our hearts to receive the long-awaited answer to the question why.

1. Griffith, Jeremy. A Species In Denial. Sydney: FHA Publishing and Communications Pty Ltd, 2003.
2. Fletcher, W.A. Farther Along. Dallas: Stamps-Baxter Music Company, 1937.
3. Luke 15:11-31
4. Tillich, Paul. The New Being. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1955.
5. Martin, Roberta. He Knows Just How Much You Can Bear. Chicago: Roberta Martin Studio Of Music, 1941.