Acceptance in Culture

It's human nature to want to be accepted in culture. Michael Frost examines how accepting brokenness can help us move beyond our fear of rejection.

Questions for Discussion and Personal Reflection

  1. Consider a time in your life when people have expected you to make immediate changes. How did it make you feel? How successful were you?
  2. In what ways has a church community been helpful and patient—or unhelpful and judgmental—when you've needed to make changes in your life?

One movie that I found like, really inspiring was an American film called "Lars and the Real Girl." It's about an emotionally stunted young man played by Ryan Gosling who, who's deeply lonely. He's living in a garage at the back of his sister's house, and he orders one of those blow-up dolls. He dresses her up and she becomes his chaste partner. He names her, and he creates a whole story about her - about the fact that she was a missionary in South America and she's returned home, and he, he ends up investing this kinda whole fantastical world of this this, this, this beautiful chaste relationship between him and this doll. So his sister goes to a psychiatrist and says, "What do I do? This is crazy. He wants to bring the doll to dinner, wants to walk the doll around town," and the psychiatrist said, "Oh, well, don't, don't, don't break the fantasy. That could be very psychologically damaging. You've got to go with the fantasy and allow him to slowly be weaned off this doll." So her and her husband have great difficulty doing that, but there's a lot of comical scenes where her husband- oh, I think he's a builder or a truck driver- has to pretend that Bianca's actually a real member of the family. And there's even a scene where they go to the minister of the church, and they explain to him that she's, that he's gonna be bringing Bianca to church. And here's the whole church accepts this, this thing in this man's life with the view to, to moving him forward and it's a beautiful, beautiful picture. This doll basically represents Lars' Lars' brokenness, Lars' desperate loneliness, Lars' fear and his laziness. And then the pictures of his sister and her husband and of the minister and the psychiatrist and of the whole community - slowly but surely accepting his brokenness, not saying it's a good thing or a natural thing, accepting it, acknowledging him in grace and, and with love and allowing him to slowly but surely let this doll go, which he does. I found it a deeply moving picture because the doll represents human brokenness. Lars is a very attractive and appealing guy, and the way this community responds is just the way I reckon churches and neighborhoods should be. We are all broken people, and churches ought to be places where we are accepted but we're loved and acknowledged but we're always called to move beyond our fear and our laziness without accepting that that happens just like that, not expecting someone just to suddenly cease this or change that or do that. But to allow us in the context of a community to slowly but surely allow courage and, and work - the courage and work of Christ in our lives to lead us onto something better than we are. I don't think we can do it on our own. I think that story, that film, really beautifully demonstrates that this is a communal activity for all of us.