Tuesday, August 28, 2007

my posts are too long. and too spread out. look for a much more consistent blog coming next month with shorter posts at least every other week. with that, enjoy the latest unfiltered musings...

Smiles, Pit Preachers & Acceptance

It was in passing someone on the B-school steps today that I looked up to smile that "passers-by smile." You know, the one that says, "I have no idea who you are, but we're inhabiting the same bit of space-time right now, and I'm pleased to coexist with you." Because I know you all think that when you're smiling at a stranger....haha.

But in that seemingly normal moment, I also found myself looking for something in return. Some kind of smile or acknowledgment that I matter. It's not that I think I don't matter, but only that as humans, I think we innately turn to each other to find validation, acceptance or love - to know that we're okay.

The big problem with this is that since we're all human, we all inevitably let each other down. No matter how much we love someone, we will have at least one (usually multiple) instances of selfishness where we hurt them. So to put our trust or our need for acceptance into the hands of others is dangerous. There is only One who accepts us completely and loves us perfectly. It is in Him that we find our identity, that we're told we're "okay," because He has gone to such great lengths to make us so.

This one "random" encounter today with the B-school guy has made me think of other ways that I clamor for people's acceptance. I think this is why I spend inordinate amounts of time in the Joyner lounge with friends, soaking up the fact that we care for each other and support each other.

Now this is not in itself a bad thing, but must be put into context. Friends are a vital part of life, and for emotional balance, we need the acceptance and love of other people. But if that is our sole source of confidence or "validation," then we have a problem. When you come into a friendship already secure in who you are and not seeking approval, only then can you truly love someone selflessly. Otherwise, you will always be brushing over that relationship with a fine-toothed comb, looking for ways the other person builds you up - instead of striving to build them up.

Today on the quad I saw a new "Pit Preacher" who was doing the typical "condemning to hell" routine. And my heart broke for the people there listening - ordinary, amazing people, who may or may not know God. But I know that all of them are looking, just like me, for acceptance, for a place to belong, for confidence, for Truth and Love. (Kind of reminds me of that Tim McGraw song, "Drugs or Jesus," where he croons, "Everybody wants acceptance, we all just want some proof, everyone's just looking for the truth...we're all looking for love and meaning in our lives.")

Dear friends, this is the Truth and Love that we all need in our lives - Jesus absolutely adores us. He is our confidence. Our identity is in Him. We only need His approval, and we have it.

This is in direct contrast to the "condemnation" that the Pit Preacher was claiming this afternoon. What happened to verses like, "There is therefore now no condemnation in Christ Jesus" (Romans 8:1) or the story where Jesus told the angry crowd that whoever was without sin could cast the first stone at the adulterous woman (John 8)? Instead, Jesus paints us a picture in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5) that explains just how much we all mess up. We don't love each other well. Think you're basically a good person, or like this "preacher" thinks...that you don't sin? Well, have you ever been angry at someone? Jesus says we've committed murder in our hearts. Ever looked at someone lustfully? Jesus says we've committed adultery with them. I know I'm guilty of both.

You see, it's not this laundry list of things we do or don't do in order to "be accepted by God." It's just the fact that we exist that makes Him love us. We don't deserve His love, but He gives it anyway. This is where true acceptance, "validation," belonging, confidence and love is found. This, my friends, is "amazing grace."

I so deeply want people to know that love and turn to Him for it, and I want to grow to be an extension of that love to those around me. I want to rest in the knowledge that I am His child, and that is enough.

And I want to smile at people without thinking about "space-time." ;o)

"Let me know that You hear me, Let me know Your touch, Let me know that You love me, Let that be enough." -Switchfoot