To experience significant change in our lives, a great deal is needed. But one of the key ingredients may surprise you:
Self-acceptance is to look honestly at who you are and to treat what you find not with hostility but hospitality, just as you would a weary traveller on a journey.
When I was first exposed to the idea of self-acceptance, I bristled. I was struggling with a longstanding pattern of sexual sin that I seemed to alternate between hating and loving. Like many people, my strategy for change was more adversarial toward this part of my life than self-accepting.
And this is understandable. Why would I be hospitable toward something in me that God hates?
There is a difference between hating that which is evil and hating ourselves or parts of ourselves for doing evil.
Those parts of us that are most lost, most twisted and strange to us, most vile need Christ most. To refuse to accept them as a part of who we are today is to refuse them access to the One who can transform them into something beautiful, strong, helpful, and good.
Self-acceptance is a key to change.
But don’t confuse this with a skewed version of self-acceptance.
The skewed version is to look at who you are and to treat what you find with reverence, as you would the master of a house.
Note the difference: A skewed self-acceptance is about accepting the way things are as settling on a destination. Your experience up to this point becomes master of your fate. You accept the way things are as the way things always will be.
Admittedly, walking out a true self-acceptance without slipping into the skewed version can be difficult. You’ll need wise counsel along the way, particularly because messages affirming the skewed self-acceptance abound in subtle and overt forms.
For me, I must return repeatedly to the cross for help in this. Like nothing other, the cross of Christ reveals the grave nature of my sin and the immense love God has for me all at once. I cannot behold Christ there and shrug at my sin. But I find there a place to come as I am that my sin might find its end. And I might come to know myself free from it, as he intends.