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A few years ago, I spent the Labor Day weekend in Holland, Michigan, connecting with some good friends from graduate school. Holland is a beautiful small town in Western Michigan. We caught up, ate great food, hiked the sand dunes, and swam in Lake Michigan.

The activities were fun, but I think the thing I appreciated most about the trip was the feeling of acceptance I had. I have known these friends for over ten years. They have seen me through good times and bad times. They know pretty much everything about me. And they accept me and love me anyways.

I think that’s grace. Grace is unconditional acceptance that I don’t deserve. Acceptance even with my rough edges and idiosyncrasies. Acceptance even though I make mistakes and don’t always get it right.

Grace and Acceptance is Our Deepest Need

There is something about grace and acceptance that we all yearn for as human beings. We have a core need for grace and acceptance on a deep level. It is refreshing, like cool water on a hot Texas day. Grace and acceptance are foundational for any sort of healing and growth to occur. It’s that important.

Struggling with Grace and Acceptance

But I often struggle to experience grace and acceptance. I find it difficult to give grace and acceptance to myself. I struggle to offer grace and acceptance to others. And it’s tough for me to experience grace and acceptance from God. I know I’m not alone. So often in our lives, instead of living in a place where grace and acceptance are the reality, we judge others and ourselves harshly.

Repenting of Religion

There’s a great book by Greg Boyd called “Repenting of Religion: Turning from Judgment to the Love of God.” Boyd argues it isn’t our job to judge others—we should leave the judging up to God. Instead, our role is to offer grace, love, and acceptance to others. I want to experience more of what I experienced that Labor Day weekend. I want to intentionally cultivate relationships where we drop our role as judge and instead offer grace and acceptance.

Discussion: When thinking about yourself, do you have a stronger tendency to experience grace/acceptance or judgment? When engaging in relationship with others, do you lead with grace/acceptance or judgment? How can we move from judgment to offering grace, love, and acceptance?

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