My first song memory is “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
One of the first emotions I remember is the feeling of not fitting in.
Though I loved school and learning new things, in my rural, small-town school, the only ones that thought that was “cool” were the teachers.
When my birthday came, I actually looked forward to the personal visit that our pastor made to each child in the church. It didn’t take long to realize that I was the only one in Sunday school that didn’t dread it. Rather than voice my support of the pastor, I kept quiet, but the feeling of not fitting in was reinforced.
Most of the families went “to town” on Wednesday night, so Thursday and Friday the other girls would talk about what they did that night. Our family went to church. Again, I felt like an outcast.
During those pre-teen years, nearly everything seemed to set me apart, but not in a way that felt like “special”. Sewing my own clothes, playing piano for the chorus, making the “A” honor roll, being president of the pep club, winning a 4-H trip, being part of a church singing team LOOKED like honors, but my mind and soul turned all of it to another evidence that I didn’t fit in.
What I eventually recognized as Satan’s lies ate away at my soul.
And Satan used every opportunity to subtly twist every situation to that view to strengthen my perception of rejection.
Even when I saw that Jesus was cast out!
My need for acceptance went so deep that I allowed myself to be drawn to a sinful lifestyle. Oh, it was hidden and secret. And I regularly repented. And then chose it again, for it seemed to put to rest that gnawing need for approval.
God’s graciousness rescued me from the secrets. His mercy minimized the consequences of my choices during those dark years.
I clung to His promise in Lamentations 3:22-24
Amplified Bible (AMP)
22 It is because of the Lord’s mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not.
23 They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.
24 The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.
Keeping my eyes on Him, counseling to help understand myself and my relationship expectations, the supportive network of friends and church fellowship, have lowered the height of the idol of acceptance.
But it is still there.
Woven into the fabric of my flesh.
Waiting to raise the idol of acceptance without notice.
Sometimes blind-siding me.
More often creeping in on stealthy tiptoes.
And this Lent I lay it down at the feet of Him who loved me.
Who gave up His glory to understand my frailty.
Who willingly accepted the guilt of all my sin, unintentional AND intentional.
Who was rejected for me.
Who continues to extend His mercy to me.
Who has forgiven my sin – past, present and future.
I pray that whenever I feel the tug of worshipping at the Idol of Acceptance, I will turn to You, the Author and Finisher of my faith. (Hebrews 12:2) Let me worship at Your feet, the great lover of my soul. “I have loved you, with an everlasting love. With unfailing love I have drawn you to myself.” Jeremiah 31:3
In You, I am pre-approved!