Jesus didn’t seek acceptance. He gave it. His acceptance of others was bigger than his exposure of their sin. They heard what he said about their sins, but his love was the brighter thing.
I think my judgment sometimes shines brighter than my acceptance. Since I’m uncomfortable with difference, I tend to devalue people who are different. The devaluing helps me justify ignoring them. But I’m growing, I’m getting better.
God led me to a non-profit ministry doing child sponsorship and orphan care in Haiti. They offered a position and I accepted.
Then came my first trip. I read books, saw countless pictures, and explored Haiti on the internet. I was prepared.
But I wasn’t prepared. I walked out of the Port-au-Prince airport and into an avalanche of poverty, sickness, and hopelessness. My senses were assaulted. I felt dizzy and queasy. I wept in my hotel room, for them and for myself. I asked God why he sent me there? I felt unimportant, irrelevant, and uncomfortable.
The people, they were so different.
Truthfully, I wanted the Haitians to acknowledge me, to treat me as important, to make me feel better about their poverty. I was waiting for their acceptance.
However, after several trips, it slowly got better. God has a way.
Lessons I Learned About Acceptance
- I’ve now been to several countries. In many ways, people are the same everywhere. And people everywhere respond to smiles and kindness.
- The people I feel awkward about, due to their difference, are often awkward about my being different. Go figure.
- The best way to overcome awkwardness with the differences of others is to offer them your acceptance and to find a way to serve or help them.
A Haiti Illustration
In the annual medical clinics, the first station, always my station, was height/weight, which required the kids to remove their shoes. It’s hard for younger students to do quickly. I found that sitting on the floor, with the child in my lap, was the quickest route for shoe removal.
I then saw the effects of ill-fitting shoes. Most kids didn’t own socks. Many had foot injuries and skin problems. It’s third world.
After the height/weight was done, I got back on the floor to get their shoes on. I did this over and over, for hundreds of kids, year after year.
The floors were filthy; the feet were dirty, and it was sometimes stomach-churning because of the open sores, odors, and foot problems. But with each child, a little piece of my pride dissolved, some ego melted, and the smallest bit of humility found its way in.
I don’t know if they accepted me. But it didn’t matter because I finally accepted them.
And it made all the difference. God has a way.
Do you have those values? Can you teach them to your child? Can they live with them?
Everyone needs a Haiti.
From Francis Chan,
“Life is comfortable when you separate yourself from people who are different from you…but God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.”