Summary: Grace is not only hard to understand, it is difficult to accept. While every human being has a deep need for acceptance, security, and significance, we tend to seek the meeting of those needs in other human beings, who can never really meet those needs.
Grace We Struggle to Accept:
The Embrace of Grace
Grace, prt. 2
Wildwind Community Church
David K. Flowers
I want to start today’s message on an uncharacteristically heavy note. I have a few questions for you, and they’re the kind of questions that may not be easy for you to answer. These are personal questions, so I’m not asking anyone to answer out loud, but I do hope you’ll take them to heart. These are three sets of two questions each, ready?
What is the closest you’ve ever come to being accepted unconditionally – knowing someone loves you and accepts you for exactly who you are? What mistakes have you made in your life trying to find acceptance?
Okay, next two questions. How does insecurity drive you? To rephrase that, how do you see your need for security playing out in the way you approach relationships? Second, how has your search for security led to your doing things that made you LESS secure?
Final two. Do you carry around in your heart a basic sense of being worthwhile, or a basic sense of being worthless? Where does your sense of being worthwhile come from – who you are, or what you do?
WHEW! That’s tough, isn’t it? The answers to those questions are not very comfortable to think about, are they? In fact I would venture to say that even to scratch the surface of the answers to those questions begins to chip away at the veneer some of us have laid over the top of our most painful mistakes, our deepest regrets, our most humiliating faux paus. You know there’s a reason for that. There’s a reason why those three sets of questions can bring up so much emotion so quickly. The reason is because when I ask those questions, they are centered on three of the deepest needs that every human being has.
First, we have at the core of our being a need to be accepted. Can you argue with that? Sure, there are those who don’t seem to have that need, but those people, like the rest of us, are motivated by it. It’s just that the need drives some to acts of outrageous – sometimes even pathetic – desperation, locks some away in quiet places of pain, and hides itself in others in displays of arrogance or pride. We’re either looking for acceptance, or engaged full-time in convincing ourselves we don’t need it. We are looking for a relationship with a person who will completely accept us, just the way we are, warts and all, so to speak. We’re looking for that person who will not take our bad moods personally, not think it’s always about them, be patient as we sometimes respond in ways we ourselves don’t understand, always assume the best about us, and display this boundless love for us that we understand to be complete acceptance.
How many arguments between spouses spring from the way each partner (consciously or unconsciously) expects this acceptance from the other, and feels hurt and angry and betrayed in those times when it is not forthcoming? How many hurt feelings are the result of feeling left out, like an outsider, like we are not accepted? How many children have grown into hurting and dysfunctional adults because their constant striving for the acceptance of their parents met with constant frustration? How many human beings in this world – how many human beings in this church – are walking wounded because, try as they may, they cannot secure the acceptance they need?
Second, each of us has a deep need not only to be accepted and loved unconditionally, but to be secure in that knowledge – to know it won’t come and go, it won’t change when someone is in a bad mood, or hasn’t slept well last night, or is hungry or obsessed with their own problems. We need to be accepted, but we also have a deep need to be secure.
We need to know that the person who loves us, who accepts us without condition today, will continue to accept us and love us without condition tomorrow. How many mistakes have we made trying to hold on to something precious to us? What desperate measures have you resorted to in your life to be secure in a relationship that meant something, maybe everything, to you? Security. We all crave it. We’re all seeking it. We want to feel secure in who we are and are looking for someone not only to accept us, but to promise that the acceptance will last forever. We are weary from relationships that begin with great promise, and end in great pain. Some of us have grown cynical and become jaded because our need for security has been dashed against so many rocks. Some of us are products of those parents I talked about earlier – the kind of parents that only accept us under certain circumstances, and communicate that we are only okay when we are behaving, performing well in school or on the athletic field. There’s no security in that, and it leaves us starved as adults for the security we need.