Sometimes, we all feel rejected. Rejected by those we love or seek to love. Rejected socially or professionally. Adopted children can often have a continued sense of rejection.
How do we fit in and gain that sense of belonging? How do we endow a sense of belonging to our children and others?
It is difficult for our adopted children to receive love sometimes because of a lingering sense of rejection and fear. It's been over two years since they moved in and in spite of all our efforts, our children don't have a full sense of belonging yet.
There was a reject named Zach, or Zacchaeus the tax collector who climbed a tree in the Bible to get a glimpse of Jesus (Luke 19:1-10). Zach's physical height and profession diminished his honor in the culture, but he was used to the rejection. In some ways, maybe rejection had grown more familiar and therefore more comfortable than acceptance.
Jesus did a dishonorable thing too and invited himself to Zach's house for dinner! It wasn't the self-invite, it was the fact tax collectors were traitors and sinners because they sold-out to the Roman occupiers. Yet, Jesus did not reject him. Zach received Jesus into his home where Zach admitted his greed and dishonesty.
Jesus, was joyful, "Today, salvation has come to this house, since Zacchaeus also is a son of Abraham. For I came to seek and to save the lost." Zach never expected to be considered a "son of Abraham" again. Jesus gave him acceptance and belonging. Jesus considered Zach to be part of God's family!
The power of this story is that Zacchaeus was seeking Jesus, but the story ends with the fact Jesus was seeking Zacchaeus all along. Zacchaeus was up in a tree, but Jesus was on His way to be nailed to a tree in Jerusalem. Zacchaeus was a reject in his community and Jesus was on His way to be rejected and despised by His own people in Jerusalem.
Acceptance Is Given, Not Earned
So, how do we fit in and gain a sense of belonging? The reality is acceptance is something given to us, not something we earn. Jesus accepted Zach before he did anything for Jesus. Jesus accepts us in the same way. No matter who we are, no matter what we have done, we are the "lost" He came to seek and to save. However, there can be things in our life that hinder us from experiencing acceptance when it is offered.
We Can Hinder Our Experience of Acceptance
Jesus has a heart for rejects like us. Jesus loves all people, but that is no guarantee all people experience His love. In spite of our greed and betrayal, God loves us so much He was willing to put on flesh and die on a cross for our wrong choices. He doesn't wait for us to get our act together first. While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Zach's self-absorbed greed and dishonesty was hindering his relationship with God and others. By repenting of this, he was free to experience Christ's love. We too must admit we are the "lost" Jesus came to seek and to save.
It's a Process
As time goes on, I hope our children discover their belonging in our family and in God's. It may mean I have to drop my supposed dignity at times to reach them as Jesus did for Zach. We will have to work through the things hindering their ability to receive love. I'm sure Zacchaeus regressed at times after this story like our children. After so long, rejection becomes familiar and that can be more comfortable than acceptance, which seems new and unfamiliar. In the same way, we all have to work through the things that hinder our experience of God's love and acceptance. It means we must confess our morally wrong choices (own them for what they are and not sugarcoat them) and repent (stop doing them). The love and acceptance we all long for awaits!