Today in our Sunday school we were talking about the importance of acceptance - how God accepts us, and how we, in turn can be such a blessing to others (specifically our spouses, if married) by our acceptance of them.
I shared with the class how I had seen this demonstrated yesterday between Caleb and Priscilla. They were having an argument about a book Priscilla wanted from Caleb which he was withholding from her. In her anger, Priscilla burst out with, "Caleb, you're SO selfish and greedy." This deeply hurt him. They battled back and forth for a while, and finally Caleb said, "Fine, just have it then - if that's what you think of me!" He then teared up and expressed his dismay by saying, "I can't believe you with think to say of me that I'm selfish and greedy - that you would say that of your own brother!"
We talked with Priscilla and got to the root of the issue - her jealousy and desire to have what was his. Then we asked her what she should do about the things she had said to him. She proceeded to apologize to Caleb, and he gladly accepted. He was happy to release his book to her, not to win her approval but because of it.
I was surprised to see how deeply he was hurt by Priscilla's opinion of him, and how unbearable it was to him that she looked down in disapproval on him. It very much mattered to him how much she esteemed him - and when it was negative he was willing to give in and do anything to win her back.
The further surprising thing was that for the rest of the afternoon - over 2 hours, he invited her up to his Lego loft (a very privileged invitation I might add!) and show her all his creations and tell her the entire Star Wars story from start to finish complete with Lego figures and creations to demonstrate it all. They played happily together that whole time - bonding and sharing time doing Lego's and telling stories. I brought them some Kool-Aid and snacks and they thought they were having a party!
Upon the foundation of their reconciled, accepting relationship, they were able to engage in cheerful, bonding play together - appreciating each other as friends and peers. The crucial element in all of this was acceptance, affirmation and esteem.
We all need these in our lives. When we receive rejection, criticism and dishonour, we inwardly cringe and suffer and hide from the onslaught. How might we bless others if in all our relationships, but especially those closest to us, we extended the same grace, acceptance and love that God has shown to us?
I am not saying we deny the failures, gloss over the uncomfortable realities of each others faults and weaknesses or extend praise falsely for the mere goal of pleasing another. God does address all of these in our lives, as He should. But I do think that growth occurs with a healthy foundation of trust and acceptance: Can I trust you to accept me when I fail? Can I trust you will not blast me with all my faults when I let you down? Can I trust you to love me in spite of my unloveliness?
I hope so.
And I hope you can trust the same things of me.