What are you being asked to accept today?
What major change are you facing?
What situation do you find intolerable or unbearable – job, marriage, family concerns, health, etc.?
Perhaps you are trying to become more flexible as you age, adjusting to life as it is today instead of what used to be.
I listen to the poignant stories of people who are struggling to make ends meet, or overcome the loss of a loved one, or are re-fitting life to meet new health concerns. I include myself in many of these stories. And I tell myself as I tell others:
Nothing will change or get better until we first accept.
People’s first response when I say let go and accept is, “You must be kidding. Accept that my life is falling apart – accept that I have run into another setback?”
Yes, that is exactly what I am saying.
When we read the memoirs or life stories of people who have gone through horrific times, they tell us they not only survived, but were enriched by their experiences. How can that be?
We think of acceptance as an ending. That’s it. There is nothing I can do. But, in reality, it is a new beginning. Let me explain.
What acceptance is not
Before we can understand what acceptance is, we need to understand what it is not.
Acceptance is not giving up.
It is not resignation.
It isn’t saying, “I am powerless,” even though I may feel that way in the moment.
It doesn’t mean that if I accept I will remain a victim, ready to be stepped on, abused, or used against my will.
Acceptance means we stop resisting and struggling.
We don’t accept because we don’t want to feel the pain, loneliness, uncertainty and fear of not knowing where to go from here. Working through the uncertainty of adversity is never easy. We want to withdraw, lick our wounds and isolate ourselves and the vulnerability we feel. We put on a brave face when out in public but then retreat behind the protective walls we build around our hearts and spirits.
Yet it is precisely in those difficult times where we grow spiritual and psychological muscles and come to terms with our inabilities. It is the opportunity to begin a trusting relationship with God and have a conversation with ourselves. We are not alone unless we choose to stay in that aloneness.
Acceptance does not mean:
- I am powerless – instead, it helps me find and use my power constructively
- I stay in this position forever – instead, it allows me to look for better options
- I have no rights – instead, it helps me protect and use my rights more effectively
- I am a victim to whatever happens – instead, it frees me to take charge of my life
Acceptance is not giving up. It is not resignation. It is opening your hand and allowing new information to meld with the old in order to see and take advantage of new prospects. Acceptance allows me to work with my situation. I don’t have to blame anybody or anything. I don’t have to blame myself. I don’t have to find the perfect answer or try to be perfect in resolution.
Acceptance means a new beginning – I start right here – right now.
As we struggle with this concept, there will be moments of questioning, confusion and misunderstanding. Give yourself time, patience and grace to work through the tangles of doubts, uncertainty, skepticism and misgivings. We may not receive the answers to all our questions, but we will receive a peace as we accept life as it is and work with it. We may have lost things we treasured. But as we roll with the punches, we gain flexibility and compassion.
When we are ready to accept, we are ready to take charge of our life – not control it.
When we try to control life, we are closed to new information and new ways. When we take charge of our life, we are able to gather and evaluate options. We look at possibilities and expand our frame of reference. Old rigid rules we put in place are examined. Acceptance means I no longer run from my fears, anxieties and concerns. I face them squarely and honestly.
Here are some ways to further understand the concept of acceptance.
- Acceptance means I do not have to stay in this uncomfortable spot – I can learn, grow and move forward
- Acceptance says life isn’t fair – I didn’t ask for this, but I can work with it – I can work with my disability, my failing health, and my family issues.
- Acceptance means a new beginning, starting right here, right now
- Acceptance tells me I don’t have all the answers and don’t need to pretend that I do
- Acceptance means I can ask for help when I need it
- Acceptance tells me I am okay no matter what has happened – I am a child of God
- Acceptance means I don’t have to blame someone or something for what has happened; remaining a victim is self-defeating and a dead end
- Acceptance acknowledges my need for forgiveness, grace, humility and honesty. I allow God and others into my life and walk with their support
- Acceptance allows me to discover myself with dignity and honesty. I am free to be me, with all my shortcomings as well as all my unique qualities, special gifts and talents
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