This week I realized I’ve bought into a big lie. In fact, I think many of us believe this lie.
We’ve been taught that the in-between places on our journey are the bad ones. We’ve been told that we must discover solutions—right now—to our daily dilemmas, or something is terribly wrong.
But here’s a reality we must all face: Life sometimes doesn’t have a 5-step solution.
In fact, life is often about acceptance.
Acceptance of things that won’t change. Or acceptance of things that may change, but that will take time for that change to be readily seen. Acceptance of the imperfect.
That’s the truth. Imperfection and waiting for the outcome is really where all of us live, right? Not on the mountaintop.
And as we wait for the outcome, we must find a way to live fully. Otherwise we live holding our breath, waiting to inhale until things are the way we’d like them to be.
How can we do that? How can we seek the beauty found in the transition–in those in-between places of acceptance?
Acceptance in the Transition
I look around my house and I see the carpets need to be replaced. I look outside and see that my yard desperately needs a trim.
Could I hire a gardener and get new carpet? Sure. But we’re under a budget crunch right now and we have to watch every cent.
And since we got out of debt 8 years ago, we’ve made a decision to pay cash for things. Which means no new carpet or gardener right now.
So today I’m choosing to accept my stained carpet as enough. And I’m choosing to say, “It won’t be perfect, but we’ll work together this weekend as a family to do some yard cleanup.”
My kids have been fighting a lot lately, despite my reminders to “get along and let some things go” or to “think of the other person” or all those other mom phrases. I hate seeing them at each other’s throats.
It’s difficult to watch, especially since we work so hard to teach them about a different way to live. And yet, I have to accept that they are in a state of transition too. They are learning, and learning isn’t always a fluid process.
As moms, we often have to find that tension of fully loving our kids through the imperfection. It’s another area where we must live in acceptance.
Some things we must accept are out of our control and seem downright cruel. And yet, acceptance through the unknown must still remain.
I think about my friend whose mom is dying of cancer. She shared a heartbreaking story recently of how she went with her dad to pick out her mom’s coffin. It was one of those life experiences that none of us hope to go through (especially as a young mom), but right now, it is her reality. Acceptance.
I think about my own 92-year-old grandmother who just lost her husband (my grandfather) of 70 years. They were together from the time they were teenagers and have been inseparable since.
Her entire world is being torn apart as she is being asked to say goodbye not only to this wonderful man, but to life as she’s always known it.
She is hopeful about the future of starting a new life on her own, but also devastated by her enormous loss and not sure how she’ll ever get over it. It’s heartbreaking and so hard to watch. Acceptance.
Acceptance as a Place of Trust
Acceptance through transition is often that point where we’re forced to lean on God more than ever before.
Jesus knew all about acceptance, didn’t he? However, he is the only person who was ever given the choice of whether or not to accept his ultimate life purpose.
In the Garden of Gethsemane, he wrestled with the agony of choosing to go to the cross. He didn’t have to accept that His fate was to be a sacrifice for all. He, being God, had the power to not accept it. But He chose God’s way because although he understood the cost of his decision, he also understood fully the wholeness and perfection that comes with accepting God’s way.
And that’s a lesson for us, friends. If we believe that God is in control of every part of our lives, then mustn’t we accept that our lives right now are somehow part of his bigger plan? What purpose is there is fighting and complaining about it, especially if we truly believe that He is in control?
Not that I’m saying that human sin or discord (which we often must accept) is part of his plan or that it’s OK. Not at all.
But we also must accept (and trust in His truth) that he somehow purposes everything for our good, even those sinful things that aren’t of him.
Acceptance as Impetus to Change
Acceptance doesn’t mean settling, however. In fact, acceptance can be what spurs us toward change.
Acceptance is often the first step to change. We must first accept, “Hey, I’ve gained a bit of weight” before we can be fully committed to a new exercise plan and healthier diet.
If we lean too much on being content with everything as it is, we lose the God-given ability to make much-needed improvement in our lives; and if we focus too heartily on change, then we miss the power of resting in his omnipotence.
It’s a daily–and difficult!–tension that we must all wrestle with, simultaneously in different aspects of our lives.
So as we walk through the imperfect, as we face another day of bickering children and not enough money at the end of the month, acceptance means finding the ability to be content with whatever the day brings and yet still find opportunities for there to be a better way.
Letting God Lead You Through Acceptance
I don’t think there’s a quick answer for all of this.
In many ways, acceptance is like a pendulum—and as we examine each circumstance, we need God’s wisdom to decide if we need to lean more on the “we need to change” side or the “trusting Him through the circumstances” side.
As I ponder this aspect in my own life, here are some Bible verses I want to share with you:
—“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure.[b] This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” 2 Corinthians 4:7-10
—“That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are[e] being renewed every day. For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18
—“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love. Make every effort to keep yourselves united in the Spirit, binding yourselves together with peace.” Ephesians 4:2-4
—“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” James 1:2-4
Let God’s word speak to you about what aspect of acceptance you need right now.
Consider this question:
Should the problems swirling around you today spur you on towards change, or is God trying to use those same issues to encourage you to throw your hands up in the air and trust deeper in him?
I’m praying for you, friend, as you wrestle through these issues too!