Acceptance is life-long need

Acceptance is life-long need

I remember myself as a teen crushing on a boy from afar or wishing to be included in a certain group of girls. We never outgrow the need for acceptance. Somehow through the decades, we still yearn to be valued, included, seen, accepted, wanted.

Today acceptance might look like belonging to a certain group or being honored at work, cherished by your spouse, respected by your children, understood by your people. A certain loneliness envelops us when we feel left out, neglected, ignored, unwanted, less than, overlooked.

Over time, this lacking might turn into anger, frustration, depression. Sometimes we even take drastic measures to find it. Stepping out, searching, and expressing the need takes courage. We might even have to climb a tree.

Zacchaeus wanted to be known

That’s what Zacchaeus, the tax collector, did. He found acceptance when he climbed a sycamore-fig tree. (See the story in Luke 19:1-10.) Because of his short stature, the thick crowd prevented him from seeing the Lord pass by. Rather than give up, he found a solution. Like a crazed fan scrambling to climb a table or fence to catch a glimpse of the famous person he admired, he climbed that nearby tree. Heedless of danger, perhaps, and driven by his need, he made a spectacle of himself. Can you imagine his neighbors rolling their eyes, whispering, “Look at what a fool he is making of himself”?

Yet Jesus knew Zacchaeus’ heart and desire, even though the others in the crowd found him unworthy and preferred to mutter negative comments about him. It hurts when people grumble and say things about us, especially if they say falsehoods or don’t even know us.

But Jesus knows us just as He knew Zacchaeus. Jesus didn’t care what everyone else said or thought. He shouted up to Zacchaeus and invited himself to his house. Jesus knew that the hated tax collector wanted to be seen, found, rescued, protected. Zacchaeus wished to be seen past what his job was, past what it appeared on the outside. He desired to be known. Like us, he sought forgiveness and a new way of life.

Everyone desires acceptance

Don’t you desire that too? I do. I hope what I do matters and that I am accepted for who I am. When friends and family understand and know us, we’re free to be ourselves. Acceptance means we belong and are loved.

When Jesus spoke to him, Zacchaeus came down from his perch and made things right with those he had wronged. I imagine, filled with excitement, he raced home to prepare for his prestigious guest. He spared nothing.

“Come to my party and talk with Jesus! Let me tell you what He did for me!” What a busy, happy, little man he was that day.

When someone acknowledges us, speaks our name, accepts us where we are at, welcomes us, it speaks volumes, doesn’t it? Our life feels overflowing with joy. Suppressing that joy proves impossible as it spills forth over everything we do.

That’s what feeling loved and accepted feels like. That’s how Jesus feels about you and me, too. He accepts us, weaknesses, failures, and all. He knows our name. Jesus loves us. It pleases Him when we seek Him.

The ultimate acceptance

As Zacchaeus learned, Jesus’ acceptance exceeds everyone else’s.

When is a time that you felt like Zacchaeus, like a great burden was lifted and you were free? How did you share your joy? Did you throw a party like the tax collector or maybe just share with a friend about your spectacular day?

Remember that #YouMatter to me and to Jesus, who knows the real you and can bless you with ultimate freedom. When you want something bad enough, you’ll go above and beyond normal expectations—even climb a tree so that you can see. What a difference it makes when you know you are seen.

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2 Replies to “Acceptance is life-long need”

  1. I can relate entirely, Michelle. I have struggled all my life to be accepted. Since I was so skinny, especially as a teenager, I was introverted and short of hid in the shadows, so to speak. I don’t think I have ever completely gotten over that. Thanks for bringing it up. I think I need to take it to God.

    1. I think there is a little residue leftover from childhood that lingers and sends us back at times when triggered by something. Since you have embraced God’s acceptance of you, you’re doing well and headed in the right direction with your overall thoughts even if you sometimes digress a bit. I suppose that is why knowing that every day is a new beginning is a precious gift too. If we forget, we get a gentle reminder. Thanks for commenting, Donna.

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