Acceptance - enough, though not outstanding or perfect.
Oxford University Press Dictionary
As a young Christian mother Michelle said she would never allow her children to be tolerant or acceptable. This was a weakness to her and she thought the Lord desired the same thing. “Our standards should be higher than the world. After all, we are in the world, we are not of it”. She always demanded her children to strive for the best. In school, in activities, in choosing friends, at church and at home. Her outlook of raising children was admirable, but not realistic.
When the children were young, it was pretty easy to achieve her expectation. She could make them eat what she desired, wear appropriate clothing, monitor their friends, and somewhat control their surroundings. She often secretly patted herself on the back when she compared her parenting skills with other mothers. It was apparent to her where they were making their mistake, and she was very grateful that she wasn’t doing the same thing. Her children would never act like that. She would not allow it.
Through the years, she gained confidence as a mother and her views remained strong. It wasn’t until pre-puberty that her perspective on raising children was questioned. Her agreeable, humble and generally obedient little ones suddenly did a complete reversal. They became impatient and rebellious. Not to mention the two things she tried so hard to avoid. Tolerant and acceptable. They tolerated her presence and advice and accepted everything their friends said and did as truth. Losing this control caused her to react in ways towards her children that left her in a pool of tears many nights. She said things to her children that were harsh and irrational. She was sure that she was leaving irreversible damage. She would ask the Lord many nights, “What have I done wrong?” After all, this is exactly what she had been trying to avoid all these years.
One night, after losing her patience once again, she had a dream. Michelle was sitting in a huge courtroom. She saw the jury, the people and the judge. As she walked in, she realized they were all waiting for her. Not sure of the reason, she continued down the long walkway that lead to the witness stand. As she took a seat, every person in the courtroom took turns standing up and telling of a wrong Michelle had done in her life. The all had lists. She was amazed at the details they knew of her life. The time she lied to her mom about curfew in 11th grade, when she took office supplies home from her secretarial job, when she had an abortion and never told another living soul and even thoughts she had of lust and suicide. This was too much. What could she use as her defense? How would she get out of this? She buried her face in her hands and said, “Yes, I’m guilty. I’ll accept my punishment.”
As she sat in that chair sobbing uncontrollably, she felt a hand on her shoulder. Then, she heard the most compassionate voice she ever heard say, “This is my child. I have paid her debt. She’s not guilty. She’s acceptable. She’s not perfect, but I Am. She is free.”
The next morning, when Michelle awoke, she laid in bed for awhile. Soaking in all that was spoken to her spirit during the night hours. Realizing the mirage she had created in her mind about the bringing up of her children was humbling. Yet, liberating. The word “Acceptable” had taken on a new meaning in her heart. Now, it was a beautiful, powerful and redeeming word spoken to her by her Heavenly Father.
A few minutes later, her twelve year old daughter walked in her bedroom. Michelle motioned for her daughter to come sit on the bed with her. She looked into her daughters eyes, with tears in her own, and said, “Honey, I want you to be acceptable.......not perfect.”