Our hearts were created to bloom and blossom through the nurture and power of our loving Father’s acceptance. Our original paradise was a place of complete acceptance – Adam and Eve did not initially know anything different – until they committed sin and suffered separation from God and His Presence. Innately they knew something had changed – fear entered their hearts and they hid from God. Believers and non-believers alike can spend years – or a lifetime – hiding from God, and others as they struggle through life believing in their heart they are not accepted.
Genesis 3:8 CAMP And they heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
My struggle with finding acceptance started at an early age. Certainly, it was a different time and things were done differently in many families. As children we heard we were to be seen and not heard, the words “I love you” were never spoken and instead guilt and shame inducing proclamations were a regular household occurrence.
I entered school with low (or no) self-esteem and as the grades progressed so did the challenges that come with the lack of acceptance – for me, both at home and now at school. Although I did not understand the why, I internalized the blame for being the “problem” – and projected to others how I felt in my heart about myself. My internal heart beliefs about my identity – who I believed myself to be – actually taught others who I was. A sense of hopeless confusion stayed with me through a good part of my life.
In His loving kindness, over more recent years, Jesus has taken me back to specific times and events and filled many of those memories with His Presence and the life-changing sense of His loving acceptance. There is no amount of peer acceptance, family acceptance or acceptance from others that will ever transform our hearts the way Jesus can and does. We become His child through the new birth, entering into the New Covenant where we experience Him as He truly is! As I came to have a more accurate grasp of Who He is, my trust grew, and my heart opened wide to receive from Him all I was created to know and experience. I now joyfully share this with others. This is a journey and an adventure that I would not trade for anything!
Romans 5:8-11 TPT But Christ proved God’s passionate love for us by dying in our place while we were still lost and ungodly! And there is still much more to say of his unfailing love for us! For through the blood of Jesus we have heard the powerful declaration, “You are now righteous in my sight.” And because of the sacrifice of Jesus, you will never experience the wrath of God. So if while we were still enemies, God fully reconciled us to himself through the death of his Son, then something greater than friendship is ours. Now that we are at peace with God, and because we share in his resurrection life, how much more we will be rescued from sin’s dominion! And even more than that, we overflow with triumphant joy in our new relationship of living reconciled to God—all because of Jesus Christ!
One of those times I was brought back to a childhood memory was particularly transformational in changing my understanding (my heart belief) of His life-giving acceptance. While spending time with Him in my secret place, I saw an image from my elementary school days. I hadn’t thought of this memory for decades. On particularly rainy days, some of our parents would drive to the school to pick us up – there were no buses – we walked. The school was on a hill, and I remember coming out through the heavy entry doors and scanning the hill – in my case, hoping and praying I would see my father’s black and white Plymouth Fury III parked across the street! As I saw this image, the memory washed over me, and I once again experienced the reassuring feeling of finding my father there waiting in his car. I began to see myself running toward his car. He was my haven of safety and security. Before I reached the sidewalk, Jesus appeared under a tree. Time stopped as I felt His powerful love. I was transformed into His princess – wearing a beautiful, pure, white, full skirted dress. Slowly, my dress began to intermittently glow – with soft pastel-colored lights. They were both soft and gentle, radiating peace. I was given a new understanding as Jesus spoke to me – “these lights represent the traits I created in you that were never understood or nurtured by the important people in your life – your soft sensitivity, gentleness and compassion for others.” He went on “I intentionally made you this way for a purpose, be yourself, never hide this from others because you fear their rejection or disapproval.” The warmth and depths of His love and acceptance filled me with indescribable emotion.
I can honestly say I was forever changed. To know I could come out of hiding and freely be me with the assurance of His unfailing love and acceptance was a place I had not experienced before. I did not have to explain, hide, excuse or justify – I could be who I was intentionally designed to be. It no longer mattered what others thought of me, whether they liked me or not – I could rest in His view and opinion of me.
Our hearts matter, and every one of our hearts were designed for acceptance. There are countless others who struggle with never having experienced acceptance – if you are one of them, I encourage you to seek God and ask Him to show you how He sees you!
I John 4:19CAMP We love Him, because He first loved us.
Ephesians: 5,6 NKJV......having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.
“The Pharisees as does all religion teaches your obedience is what makes you accessible to God. Whereas Jesus taught that God in His amazing love accepts us as we are but the power of His love for us does not leave us the way it found us.”Ed Elliott
As you persuade your heart of His love and acceptance through accepting His Word as the Truth, you will discover the freedom to rest and enjoy being exactly who He created you to be – and use your divinely created personality to minister to the hearts of others – just as He intended!