The Power of Acceptance

Pastor Marty Blog

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This past year, I walked through the most difficult season of my life. It sucked in every way. I remember on one occasion talking to my counselor (I think every Pastor should have one) about my disdain for how things had gone and were going, when he fired back a phrase that shook me in the moment and has stuck with me since.

The phrase was “radical acceptance.” The power released by the application of this principle helped me through my dark season and I hope it will do the same in your dark season too.

You may not currently be in a dark season, but as one Pastor said, “you are either coming out of a storm, in a storm or headed toward a storm.” I have found this logic to be true in my 20 years of vocational ministry, and I believe that radical acceptance is a skill that everyone will need to develop and employ at some point. Here are three ways I applied it that helped me:

1. Acceptance keeps us in reality.

We all know from experience or observation that when we suffer loss, trauma, or pain, we start at denial. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross identified this as the first stage of grief in her book “On Death and Dying.” In my opinion, we start at denial because the reality we are faced with is just too difficult or painful to accept.  It can serve as a defense mechanism that seems helpful at first, but we can’t stay there.  Being in reality about yourself, your circumstances and where you are in life is key to growing and being productive as well as reaching your potential and fulfilling your purpose. Here is the reality of it: What happened is what happened, you are where you are, you have what you have, you lost what you lost, it is what it is. That is reality. Denial doesn’t change what you have or where you are, it just keeps you from dealing with it. If you aren’t in reality you aren’t really living life and you certainly aren’t moving toward your destiny or goals. So being in reality is key to living the life you want and achieving the potential you have. Realty is truth and truth is your friend—it will set you free.

2. Acceptance moves us forward.

You might need to write this down: If you haven’t accepted it, you are stuck in it. You can’t move on from what you have not accepted. Denial keeps you stuck: Stuck in the darkness, the confusion, the cycle, the depression and the pain. We probably all know someone, maybe even ourselves, who never accepted what happened. They didn’t accept the loss, the divorce, the bankruptcy, the rejection or abandonment and they are still stuck in it. In fact, 20 years later it is still all they can talk about. Their unwillingness to accept what happened has left them unable to move beyond it. Their life has been derailed, not because what happened was more powerful than God or even them, but because they just couldn’t accept it. But I want you to hear me: your destiny is on the other side of your acceptance. Don’t sacrifice who you are created to be on the altar of the pain you are unwilling to face. Don’t stay stuck, choose to move forward. Pull your shoulders back set you face like flint and face it. Greater is the God inside you than the pain in front of you.

3. Acceptance empowers us.

Acceptance is powerful, because it puts us back in the driver seat of our own life. We cannot control others or what they do, and as such, we can’t always control what happens to us. We can, however, always control our response to what happened. We can choose to accept responsibility for us in light of the circumstances. Acceptance is about taking responsibility and it is the antithesis of blame. When things happen to us, there might be someone to blame, but that isn’t always helpful.

The fruit of the spirit isn’t “others control,” but self-control. You can blame people for the rest of your life, but that will not help you move on from what happened. Blame keeps you in a place of powerlessness—powerless to control what happened and how it has impacted you. This will keep you stuck as a victim. Acceptance and taking responsibility for yourself is how you get your power back. You can be a victim, or you can be a victor, but you can’t be both. Acceptance says, “this is what happened and now this is what I am going to do.” I will choose to accept it, deal with it, heal from it and move on from it better and not bitter. Now that is powerful.

Radical acceptance is a powerful skill that we all need, because at some point, life will demand it from us. No one wants to stay in denial, stuck in pain or powerless. We all want to win, and acceptance is a key to moving forward in victory!

If you want to hear more on this subject, this message is for you. 

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