“Mommy, why do you love me?” The question was asked by my eight-year-old daughter as part of a game we often played. She would ask me why I loved her, and I would list all the different reasons.
“Because you’re not an aardvark. I don’t like aardvarks much, they scare me.”
“No, really, mommy, why?” she would question amongst giggles.
“Because you’re not a tarantula,” I would tease. “I don’t like hairy spiders. They give me the creeps.”
“O.k., o.k. Already.” I sigh, and pretend to think hard about my next answer.
“I’ve got it. It’s because you’re not a chicken. I don’t like chicken unless it’s southern fried, on my plate.”
Rolling her eyes, she just looks at me and sighs.
“Because you’re don’t have big teeth like a beaver? Because you’re not all slimy like an earthworm? Because you’re not all crabby like a crab?”
She gives me the look that speaks more than words ever could, and taps her foot impatiently.
“O.k., sheesh, you won’t let me have any fun.” I mutter, pretending disgust. It is very simple, pumpkin, I love you because you are mine.”
“And I love you because you’re mine too,” she beams.
Acceptance. I love my daughter because she is exactly who she is. She is mine; my joy, my pride, and my heart. It doesn’t matter whether she thinks she is too short, too skinny, not smart enough, not fast enough, or that her teeth aren’t straight enough. I don’t look at her and see all the things that she thinks are imperfections, I look at her, and I see perfection, period. She was formed in my womb, I brought her forth in pain, blood, and absolute joy, and in my eyes, she is the ultimate gift.
This is the kind of acceptance we have with God. For many years, I dwelt on my shortcomings, failures, and imperfections, always striving to conquer what I felt were glaring inadequacies. Striving for acceptance, I attempted to overcome my inward failings by perfecting my outward appearance. I deceived myself into thinking that as long as I appeared to have it all together on the outside, then the rest would not matter. Never truly feeling accepted by anyone for who I was inside, I hid away my true desires, and the tender heart that God gave me behind a wall that was impossible to scale by anyone, for fear of getting hurt.
After years of striving to be what everyone wanted me to be, and seemingly never accomplishing it, I became embittered. I developed a tough, no-nonsense, “don’t mess with me” attitude guaranteed to keep people at arm’s length. Afraid that if they really took the time to get to know the “real me,” they too would find fault with who I was.
This eventually even carried over into my relationship with God. I would allow Him to get so close, but no closer, only opening myself up to a point where I felt I was still in control. Terrified He too, would look at me and see what I felt were the glaring inadequacies in my walk, and my relationship with Him, I, consequently, did not even have a relationship with Him. After all, relationships must involve more than one person to be considered a success.
It has only been in the past year or so that I have learned to accept myself for who I am. To stop constantly striving for perfection in all things, and to stop beating myself up for what I consider my failings. Regardless of whether I always do the right thing, regardless of whether I fail in certain areas, regardless if I think my hair is too straight, or my nose is too big, I know that when Christ looks at me, He accepts me for who I am. Before He formed me in the womb, He knew me. (Jeremiah 1:5) My acceptance was brought forth through His shed blood, pain, and condemnation. Only one thing guides His reasoning. He accepts me because He loves me. He loves me because I am His.