Do you think you are accepted? Or do you think your peers just tolerate you because they have to? Are you quite certain that the group that just broke out in laughter is making fun of you? Have you ever wished for someone to show you just what you are doing wrong, so you could act right, thereby gaining acceptance? Maybe you have longed for different relatives, because the ones you have seem to keep you from having friends. What about blaming another person for your lack of acceptance? You know he is making comments that keep others from including you (you’ve overheard at least one remark that sounded like it). Have you started blaming God for making you the way He did, feeling He shorted you on looks, personality, and more? Do you ever entertain thoughts of turning your back on God and fellow believers because no one loves you anyway? Are you quite certain no one understands your feelings and need to be accepted?
My desire for acceptance was one of the biggest battlefields of my teen years. Although I never doubted the acceptance of my family, I often felt inferior to and unaccepted by my peers. Often times I was the one wishing for someone to show me what I was doing wrong. Many were the shields I put up to keep from getting hurt, although they did not work very well. However, God showed me at a time of reconsecration that I needed to focus on my acceptance with Him more than the acceptance of those around me. After that point, I started winning more battles than I lost.
At the core of many of my struggles was a misconception that Satan loves to promote—that acceptance is synonymous with popularity. “If you were actually accepted,” he would say, “you’d be a part of the group over there that’s always doing things together. You would always be included.” The truth is that popularity is a shaky pedestal. You need to learn to not associate acceptance with “fame” or inclusion in everything.
“For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith” (Rom. 12:3). The gist of thinking soberly involves looking at the truth, which includes neither my feelings nor my wounded pride for being left out or made fun of.
What is truth? Do I believe these verses? “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Rev. 4:11). “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus?” (Rom. 9:20). “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10). Will I believe that God has a plan for my life no matter where I am right now (see Ps. 139:13-18)? Will I accept that God has known me from before my birth and has allowed the circumstances that have brought me where I am today (whether by His perfect or permitted will)? Then I must accept that He loves me and has a place for me to fill, and it grieves His heart when I am always coveting what He has given others. Friends, this truth is a powerful weapon on the battleground of desiring acceptance—before I will feel accepted by others, I must first accept myself, my strengths, weaknesses, best and worst physical features, siblings and parents, along with being a sinner in need of a Savior.
Accepting myself is freeing. I do not have to go to the work of trying to be what I am not. It is seeing both my strong and weak points. It includes taking responsibility for my problems rather than blaming others. It is humbly accepting that if I have only one talent, then God has a place where that one talent needs to be used, and He will help me find the right place. It means believing that He knows my background and my bad habits, and He has a way for me to stay on the narrow path in spite of them. It is believing He accepts you for who you are and loves you.
What are the results of accepting myself? One is a quiet confidence in myself, my abilities, and my convictions. I do not need to be out there showing others I am worthy of their acceptance. It is looking to God for acceptance and peace rather than to man (Gen. 4:7). When I am in His will, His blessing promotes this confidence that makes me attractive no matter the setting. In addition, I know God needs me to use my talent; therefore I look for ways to be of service to Him and my fellowmen, proving the old adage true: “I went out to find a friend, but could not find one there. I went out as a friend, and friends were everywhere” (Phil. 2:4; Prov. 18:24; Gal. 6:10).
May God bless you with a readiness to be trusting, testing, and trying His ways, finding acceptance of yourself at the feet of Jesus.
Messenger of Truth, 2015, No. 26