Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Love is accepting

I've thought a lot about what makes a person quiet, outgoing, shy, rambunctious especially in my own life.  I am beginning to notice a trend.  Lately, on tv, there has been a few shows on regarding bullying in schools.  Kids would shut down, even to the point of no hope, because they were teased, abused, and generally unaccepted.  That is a terrible realization because there is so much hope and love in just the simple act of acceptance, and yet these kids didn't have it.  

Middle school is an interesting time in life.  From personal experience and from counseling kids at camp, or now at church, it is all about acceptance and popularity.  I used to, and still want to go back and counsel kids down in Oregon at one of the coolest camps I have ever seen.  The camps are 4th-6th, middle school, and high school, and each one is completely different.  4th-6th is by far the easiest.  They are at that stage in life where when you become friends with someone, its not overly based on first conversations or popularity, its based on playing out on the playground together and just bonding.  They don't feel too pressured, they just love fun.   In high school, generally everyone is more chill and just wants to hang out.  They already know where they belong and just love to hang out with their friends.  But middle school, oh deary.  For probably the first time, they are at a new school, in a new situation, having to prove themselves in a desperate attempt to fit in and be accepted.  Their energy levels are still off the chart but instead of using them all for fun, they are using them to play an intricate social game where not everyone wins. 

When I was in middle school, or specifically 6th grade I was generally not accepted.  I mean, the reasons were obvious.  Instead of playing foursquare, which i dibble-dabbled in occasionally, I would sit outside the library and read the Bible.  Strange kid.  Of course, I was still 5'2" and wearing glasses.  It wasn't until about 8th grade, by now 6'0", contacts, school record hurdling, etc. that I was beginning to be accepted (hate to say how superficial it all is).  It wasn't until sophomore year that I had found where I belonged with my group of friends who enjoyed the activities I did.  All that to say, looking back on my life, there are times when I am quiet, where I feel unaccepted, and there are times where I am incredibly energetic and outgoing because I am accepted.  And I wonder how many people are that same way, if not all of us.  We are looking to be accepted and until we are, we have no confidence in who we are, or how to act.

It makes me wonder how many times, I myself could have accepted someone else to ease them out of their quietness.  Everyone wants to be accepted.  It's why we all do what we do, sports, acting, writing, etc.  We want to express ourselves in hopes that others will accept us.  Love is all about acceptance and belonging.  Story after story in the Bible, Jesus would walk up to an unaccepted person, and invite them to find their belonging in Him.  The blind, the lepers, the crippled, the uncouth, the tax collectors, the "sinners".   He would accept the opposite of what is generally accepted today.  Can you imagine a school with Jesus as a student?  Going around from lunch table to lunch table talking to the incredibly smart, the socially unaccepted, the kids who can't afford nice clothes, etc.  That would be a completely different school then what I experienced.  It would probably flip the social "caste" on it's head. 

We are told to love in the Bible; to love God, and to love our neighbors.  And yet where is the love?  I want to encourage everyone reading this, including me (because I am reading this too) to take an extra effort to love today, tomorrow, the rest of the week, FOREVER.  To really just take the time and accept someone you haven't accepted yet.  Invite them to something, hang out with them, accept them.  You never know if that's a person's first time being accepted or not. 

Badger Mountain Sunset

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