Developing a Habit of Acceptance
Acceptance means more than letting you do what you want to do. It means I’m accepting my place (or lack thereof) in making you do what I think you should, or what I think is right, or what I want.
You let me worry about John. You worry about Peter.” from John 21
The first time I digested these words from John 21, I about choked. I had read them many times through but always focused on the part where Peter was going to have to suffer, blah – blah – blah.
Am I the only one this happens to? The Words from Scripture have been heard so many times that I no longer hear them.
This time, I had been working through some issues and trying hard to fix them (or, a truer statement would be that I was trying to fix my husband). I had prayed. I had cried out. I had just cried.
I read John 21 and then went back to read verses 20 and 21 again. I felt it well up in my spirit. “You worry about Kathryn and let me worry about Keith.”
In other words, it was none of my concern. Keith’s journey was his own and only God could lead him on a different path. Plus, if I invested all of my time trying to make the river run in a different direction then I would never have the energy or focus to work on my own journey.
Judgment also works in the opposite direction.
I’m not where he is so I might as well give up or give in.”
My husband started a new job a few months back. He walked in yesterday, prancing around in pants that were now loose, and grinned. “Size 30.” He proclaimed.
“Good for you.” That was my annoyed response. He knows that I have struggled with my weight. Why should I even bother with my attempts to correct my direction if all he has to do is take on a different job?
But his journey and my journey are not the same. Food and weight have never been an issue for him. His struggles are in areas where I have no concern. The truth is that if I want to get to where he is then I have to make better choices specific to my unique journey.
It is no more complicated than that, but it is the reason that I am not able to compare my journey to any other journey along the way.
If I want to keep my right focus then I have to break through judgment and settle into acceptance.
A Heart of Acceptance Break the Barriers of Judgement
I must accept you how you are.
Maybe she should have been better prepared – but she was not in that place. I have to make the choice and see her where she is, not where I think she should be. It is not about me, after all.
I must accept you where you are.
I took time out of my schedule to think about what my family would need when I was recovering, but I have been cooking freezer meals for several years now. We even invested in a large freezer so that I have extra room to store the meals. She is not there, and I have to make the choice not to hold that against her. I meet her needs where she is and not by the measurements I have set for my own life.
I must accept you as you are.
I learned later that the operation had not been planned for her. She did not have the time I had before the surgery happened. She was in a different place than I was when it happened. She needed different things than I needed. We are all different.
My journey is different. I will never be able to judge my journey by yours because I am not you. That is a good thing. Uniqueness means the only way to know the right step is to know the One that designed the path, the steps, and the unique individual.
It takes practice to break the habit of judgment. It requires an investment of energy and focus to move from the speck to the beam. I can get there if I continue to be diligent in the pursuit of acceptance.
4 Things to Develop Acceptance
- You have meaning. You were put on this earth for a specific purpose and a particular design. I did not put you here. I did not design you. You are not for me to understand. Letting go of all that will help me begin to accept you where you are right now.
- The actions you take are relevant simply because they are actions that you are taking. You do not have to justify your actions to me. I am not judging your actions. Understanding that what you do has meaning will help me accept that what you are doing has meaning.
- I do not have to fix it to accept you – whatever the “it” may be. Your problems are not mine to correct. My goal is to be with you.
- It is not what I think that matters. Acceptance, at its heart, puts the emphasis on you. It is about seeing you where you are and being okay with walking along beside you as you go to where you want to go.
I recently sat down with Sherri Burgess and her husband Rick Burgess to talk about the journey to understand “why” and how that understanding made the way for purpose. Listening to her story helped me remember that knowing purpose makes it easier for me to accept your unique journey and to be accepting of my own as well.
Life is hard enough with all that the world throws at me. Adding to the trouble by piling on judgment – against me or against others – only gives the enemy fuel to make things even more of a challenge.
A heart that has a habit of acceptance will be one that is prepared to live boldly in the pursuit of purpose.