“I grew up knowing I was different, and I hated it. I was born with a cleft palate,” writes Mary Ann Bird in her poignant unpublished memoir, The Whisper Test.
When she started school Mary Ann remembers , “my classmates made it clear to me how I looked to others: a little girl with a misshapen lip, crooked nose, lopsided teeth, and garbled speech.”
“When schoolmates asked, ‘What happened to your lip?’ I’d tell them I’d fallen and cut it on a piece of glass. Somehow it seemed more acceptable to have suffered an accident than to have been born different . . . I was convinced that no one outside my family could love me.”
However, all of this changed in the second grade with a special teacher, Mrs. Leonard. Mary Ann describes her as a “short, round, happy, sparkling lady.” She was by adored all her students.
Then came the day the students had their annual hearing test. The teacher would have the students stand against the door, cover one year and sitting at her desk would whisper a phrase they had to repeat. Like, “The sky is blue” or “Do you have new shoes?”
When it came Mary Ann’s turn, she writes that Mrs Leonard said “seven words that changed my life. “I wish you were my little girl.”
Our word of the week is “accepted.”
We all desire acceptance. It is a basic human need. We seek acceptance in our families. At school. At work. In social circles. Even on facebook! Unfortunately, we live in a world where some people, like Mary Ann, are not accepted because they look different.
Thankfully, we have a God who has accepted us. The Bible says that God has “predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Eph 1:6).
The word “accepted” comes from the same rooted word as the Greek word for grace. It means “to pursue with grace, compass with favor, honor with blessings.” Everyone who comes to Christ and receives his gift of salvation is accepted. Freely. Unconditionally. And lovingly. God wants us to belong to Him. Regardless of race, gender, or ethnicity. Our social standing or economic status make no difference to God. He pursues us with Divine favor.
The Father desires that we receive others in the same way as he receives us. The Bible exhorts, “Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” (Rom. 5:7,NASU) The godly attitude of acceptance can make a difference. It can lift the fallen. Encourage the faint hearted. And fill a heart with hope of those who feel unloved.
Oh, and what about Mary Ann Bird? The little girl who felt unaccepted, rejected and unloved. She grew up and became a school teacher! Our acceptance of others can touch and change their lives.
By the way, if you’re not a Christian, listen closely. The message of Christ and the cross is one of the Father gently whispering, “I wish you belonged to me.”
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman