Christian Living


The Price of Acceptance

Girl staring out church window with sunlight

Have you ever felt like you just don't quite fit in? I have. I grew up in a Christian home and attended a Christian school through high school—though I never found my place there. It became hardest when I outwardly disagreed with the actions that my peers were involved in. Even in, and maybe especially in, a Christian school, a lot of people don't want to be identified as "Christian." They do everything they can to not be Christian. I was ridiculed for not participating with "the crowd." I believed in what the school and the Bible said.

As time went by, I became frustrated, desperately wanting to be part of the group. Tired of fighting the crowd, I let my guard down and decided to join them. I decided it was my only way to be accepted. Each time I would do something I knew was wrong, I would feel guilty and considered pulling away from the group. However, no matter how bad I felt, it was hard to break away. I was feeling accepted—an acceptance I had not felt before I joined "the crowd." For the rest of my high school years, I chose "the crowd's" way over God's way.

On Thanksgiving night of 2001, at the age of nineteen, my entire life was forever changed. Nothing in life had prepared me for what was about to take place. As my family and I prepared to leave my grandparents' house, my mother was standing in the driveway loading up our family's vehicle. My father, my two younger sisters, and I watched in horror as my mother's life was taken away with all of us looking on. She was hit and killed right there in the driveway by a drunk teenage driver.

That night, in the midst of all the chaos and intense emotional pain, I focused on my mother's teachings to me. Her message about God's grace and love were always made very clear. I knew I had to fully rely on God in order to make it through the gut-wrenching tragedy.

After the accident, I never returned back to the things I had participated in before in order to gain acceptance. I had a devastating and tragic view of the heartache and pain excessive alcohol use could potentially cause to others. I regret it took something that huge to make me realize the value of life is not based on what my peers think of me or expect of me.

A teenage girl very close to my age killed my mother. I wonder if she felt she needed to "feel worthy" of the crowd she was with. It was at that point God allowed me the choice to make a U-turn in my life. Through Him I gained the courage to stand up to what I knew was right. I was able to talk to the people I had previously wanted acceptance from and tell them I disagreed with their actions. I could tell them their actions were not only wrong, but deadly. I was able to show them how, with God's acceptance, they could turn their lives around.

God has given me unbelievable strength to make it through the loss of my mother. Although I miss her deeply, God has given me a sense of peace. If I were still focused on needing the acceptance of my peers, I would not have the peace I have now. I am currently in college and the majority of the people in my classes share much of the same views as the ones I knew in high school. The difference is I am now able to stand up for my belief in Christ. I do not have to participate in stuff I know is wrong in order to feel acceptance. Christ has given me the ultimate acceptance I need. Is it going to take a tragedy in your life, like it did for me, in order for you to realize that only God's acceptance matters? I wonder, and so I ask.

Written by Cara Symank Parker. Excerpted from God Allows U-Turns for Teens compiled by Allison Bottke (with Cheryl Hutchings), copyright © 2006; ISBN 0764201816. Published by Bethany House Publishers. Used by permission. Unauthorized duplication prohibited.

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