The Art of Acceptance

As we learn to enter each moment with new mindfulness, all is not joy. We may become acutely aware of our personal baggage, or perhaps certain painful circumstances in our lives. This is when there is no substitute for the power of acceptance. I pray that each of us will learn to accept our present lives in the following ways.

First, accept the mistakes of our past. Which one of us wouldn’t make different choices in retrospect? If we regret our lack of wisdom, we leave the present and dwell in futility. We need to reiterate a simple truth until it burns into our consciousness: there is absolutely nothing we can do to change the past! Regret is a vampire on our life’s blood. We can choose not to let it drain us.

The fellowship of Alcoholics Anonymous has a list of promises that resonate with beauty for everyone, not just addicts. One of them is, “We will not regret the past, nor wish to shut the door on it.” Why? Because everything that has happened to us, even brutal failures, can ultimately work for our benefit.  Seen as learning experiences, we can accept the wisdom they offer, and we experience spiritual growth that leads to hope.

Second, accept the people in our lives. Some of us drive ourselves insane trying to change others! It might be a spouse, child, co-worker, or neighbor. We disapprove of their behavior. We sit in judgment. We think that by confronting or lecturing them, we will get what we want. This only undermines our own serenity. We have absolutely no real control over other people. Only they can embrace the necessary self-awareness that can alter the course of their lives. That choice is theirs! Live and let live; see how much freer you feel!

Finally, accept ourselves as God accepts us. Remember how Jesus condensed over 600 Jewish laws into two basic commandments. First, “Love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind, and strength.” Second, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” It’s those words, as yourself that often trip us. We can be so hard on ourselves! No matter how many admirable attributes we possess, we focus too often on what we lack.

I pray you will forgive yourself as God has forgiven you. I pray you will be kind and gracious to yourself. I pray you will realize that when John says, “For God so loved the world…” it means, “for God so loved YOU!” Accept your precious identity as a child of God. There has never been, and never will be, a person on this planet exactly like you. Celebrate your awesomeness!

Enter the moment; then accept the moment. Acceptance is not resignation. It is deeper and more powerful, a platform for lasting change. As a recovering brother says: “Until I accept life on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

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