My family has a big milestone coming up next week – the first birthday for my dad after his passing last December. Looking ahead to this upcoming milestone has really kicked my rear end. This whole year has, really. Right when I think I'm doing okay, I realize I'm not. It has just been a sad year.

But a lot has been happy, too. Life is a thing of beauty. It's tough, but it's primarily beautiful. I've tried to really pinpoint why I'm so sad—what it is I miss in particular, and you know what it is? I miss the things I never really received.

I know my dad loved me, but he had some challenges in communicating it sometimes. He was tougher than he needed to be. He had some walls built up that I just could not scale. And I failed him, too. I didn't try hard enough to break through. We did the best we could at the time, and that's all we can ask for. But, that doesn't negate the wish for a chance to do things differently.

After a lot of talking this year in grief therapy, I'm starting to accept that things were as they were, and they can't be changed. That seems pretty obvious, but I've spent a lot of time wishing it were different. I'm learning to see through the pain and treasure the beauty. It's a long road, but it's a journey worth taking.

Anyway, all this got me thinking about the gift of acceptance and what a treasure it is to be accepted fully. I know that it is one of the things that makes my marriage so strong. Greg and I accept one another completely – flaws and all. We are in this thing together, and we know it. When we start slipping apart or having some distance, it's because one or the other has started wishing the other would do 'this' a little differently, or approach 'that' the way the other one would. That's a sign of acceptance drift. Don't let your acceptance drift. Acceptance a gift.

“Don't drift; it's a gift.” My new tag line.

Acceptance is really important to kids. It starts at a young age, this need to be accepted. Grace, at five, already worries about people laughing at her. I was startled by that concern at first, but she is a sensitive and intuitive being. God made her wonderfully and perfectly and with an extra measure of sensitivity. So I make sure she knows that her dad and I think she is just right, just as she is. I have even started telling her that if she comes home from school with her behavior card on yellow, or orange, or red – we still love her just as she is. (Even the thought of being not on green horrifies her. Still, I want her to know that it doesn’t horrify me.) She knows that we love her no matter what. The other day she came up and gave me a big hug and said, “Mommy, you love me when I do something wrong and even when the seasons change.” “Yep – even then,” I said.

Elijah is less touchy-feely from an emotional perspective. He is a more aggressive kid, a little more pre-occupied, and therefore a bit less inclined to notice if you are frustrated with anything he is doing. But I try to make sure that I reassure him, too. Because I know that sometimes we look like we have got it all together, but on the inside, we worry that we are not enough. I never want him to worry that he is not enough. (I'll admit that I don't have the yellow, orange, and red discussions with him because I think he might learn of our never changin' love of him from a real brush with the color spectrum).

I don't do this perfectly. I get too 'fwustwated,' as the kids are quick to point out. At times, I speak too harshly to these little miracles in my life. I have to tell them straight up and out right, because my actions fail me sometimes. So then I tell them I'm sorry, and I remind them that my 'fwustwation' is my problem…not theirs. I remind them that, even when frustrated, I love them. There is never a time I don't love them.

I want to encourage everyone to take some time and think about the people that love you and you love – not just your kids — and ask:

“Do they know I accept them?”

“Do I need to ask for acceptance?”

“How can I better show the people I love that I accept them?”

Acceptance. We crave it . We were made for it.

Romans 15:7 says, “Therefore, accept each other just as Christ has accepted you so that God will be given glory.” For those of us who believe, this is yet another place where the Bible speaks so plainly to who we are and why we need the things that we need. God knows that we were created for community and peace, and when we act in that way, it demonstrates all the love He has for all of us. To give God glory is to live just as we were designed – that is His wish and glory, to see us perfected as we were created to be. Never will it happen completely in this time, but we are blessed with the opportunities to brush up against that glory in ever increasing measure. We are asked to do so – because it is so beautiful when we do.

Acceptance is not based on people doing the same things, the same way. Acceptance is a decision. Acceptance is a gift we give one another. Don't let the sun set tonight if there is someone out there who doubts your love for them or your acceptance of them.

This is a mea culpa and love letter to my dad. I miss you.




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