24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus. (Matthew 1:24-25)
The word that seems best to sum up Joseph’s experience, in these verses, is acceptance.
It seems as though Joseph accepted the angel’s words as truth. I would imagine that he accepted Mary, and that he was accepting the responsibility of raising a child that was not biologically his own.
In today’s society, we’re rather familiar with many different types of family units. Step-parents, adoptive parents, and foster carers, for example, are seen positively, in many cases, for their love and acceptance toward the children in their care. From my perspective, it’s very precious to raise a child with genuine love and acceptance – especially if done by free choice for a child who’s not one’s own.
In my experience, I have started to notice that genuine acceptance is truly remarkable. I think that what this looks like in practice is: we make a conscious choice to unconditionally love and accept one another, without the need to understand each other. Acceptance, along with, forgiveness, love, grace, etc. does not condone any (perceived or real) negative behaviour, and does not rely on the other person ‘deserving it’ or even doing the same to you in return. That doesn’t make it easy, does it? But, it seems to me that the benefits to both giver and receiver make this beautiful gift worth working on.