**I originally posted this over at my other blog http://thepaperskies.com on October 14, 2011. This is something that is true. Feel free to add to the discussion in the comments.

The famous French existentialist (and yes I find the idea of a famous existentialist to be very hilarious) Jean Paul Sartre is well known for the quote "Hell is other People."  I know, I know...people that frequent faith blogs might not be familiar with Sartre or existentialism but that's okay.  Give me grace please.

There was a time in my life when I believed this.  I felt that "Hell was other people."  Other people annoyed me, forced me out of my comfort zone, made me interact with those whose motives and feelings were a mystery to me.   Other people might disagree with my own philosophies and beliefs and once upon a time I could not handle that.

Now that I am older and questionably wiser I can see that heaven can be other people, too.  Not literally.  If you took that literally feel free to be offended.  There is no feeling in this world quite like someone looking you in the eyes and saying "I understand you."  The feeling that you don't have to fight for acceptance.  The feeling that no matter what socially awkward thing you do or say, you are accepted.  That is heaven of sorts, and quite possibly one of the closest things we'll find while standing on this earth.

This is why humility is so important.  This is why the bible has great phrases like "clothe yourself in humility" and "God opposes the proud but is close to the humble."  Because a truly humble person is so far removed from themselves they can so easily immerse themselves in the "other."   

For a bit of definition, a humble person is not some depressed person constantly going on and on about how they are nothing special, nothing important.  This person is deceived and quite focused on themselves.  A truly humble person is very comfortable in their own skin, completely happy to listen and show interest in what someone else has to say rather than just waiting for their turn to speak. 

When someone is humble they don't worry about being offended, they don't raise the battle cry when someone disagrees with them.  They are ready to fight every single moral battle that crosses them.  They love with the same undeserved love that was given them.

It is my prayer that I become this person one day.  And I am thankful that there is grace until that day.  It is a high calling to see the beauty inside the heart of another.  To call out the gold that is there, hiding just below the surface waiting to be found.  

How has your life been changed by feeling accepted?
How can you make a difference in someone life by accepting without condition?

12/23/2012 08:43:18 pm

I pray my Nicotene rubs your self-righteousness the wrong way-or should I say right?
GRACE: Living the Tension of "Acceptable"

I recently posted onto a Christian community group that had to first "approve" of me joining. Now, I will offend people by stating this, but I will be offending the right people: Those who believe they are always "right". it is so typical of churches to approve or disapprove of who becomes a member. Just as this Christian Community did. It is so common to find Christian communities making rules and almost behaving as though they are terrified of sin. Now maybe I am not being gracious here, but something screams inside of me when churches do this. And that is because I used to be exactly that way, too. So, I am here to say: I am not a Christian because I have it right and work hard and pray and go to church and got baptized. I am a Christ-follower because I am Loved by Him and because He saved me when no person, no idea, no counseling, no special prayer could. It was Him revealing Himself to me that makes me who I am.

So I hope to upset people when I use the word Grace. I hope that smoking a ciggarette outside the church makes Religious people squirm; that mistakenly dropping the F bomb in the middle of service upsets the religious.

For it isnt practice that makes perfect. It is praise of Christ and Praise of Who He has been to me that propells me closer into His presence.

David Helms
1/1/2013 01:40:27 am

The weird thing is these people you're referring to, these judgmental harsh unaccepting misrepresentations of Christ. They need grace too. They need grace because it is utterly absent in their own lives. Even with themselves, especially with themselves.

I know this because I was once one of these people.

I would stare myself down and as soon as anything resembling sin or unholy would surface I would tear myself to shreds and remind God that I was never worth saving, could never live up to the sacrifice His son made.

And He would reply "My son, you still do not understand my grace..."

So we pray for understanding. We pray for His hand and His grace to cover them as it covers us.

12/27/2012 01:46:48 am

Ouch. This one hits home hard for me. Rejection or exclusion scare me more than death or hell and because of that, even perceived rejection is difficult to handle. I don't see offense as being the issue like Nicole does. I think friendship can see through a lot of that, though I will agree with her that churches who have standards for membership are ridiculous.

On the other hand, acceptance is a beautiful thing and it disarms even the most cynical, guarded person. One of my small groups at church was entirely comprised of the people that nobody else wanted (I'm not kidding here) because they were awkward. Was it difficult? HELL YES. But did I have fun? HELL YES.

I don't know... this one isn't easy at all. Thanks for sharing and thanks for citing Sartre!

David Helms
1/1/2013 01:47:15 am

Hey, I appreciate you reading it Jake. This is a lesson I have to remind myself allot. When I get irritable and short tempered, when I find myself retreating to old introverted tendencies, I have to remind myself that there is nothing so refreshing as simple acceptance.

I wrote this post while staying with old friends that still lived in NC, even though I had been living in Chicago for the last five years. I found that time and distance had done nothing to blunt the love we had for each other. Regardless of how cool someone was, or how ridiculous another was. Regardless of personal style or likes or dislikes, there was genuine affection for the entirety of a person there in that house that week. And that did more to refresh my grizzled soul than a thousand sermons.


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