Accept - verb - to receive, undertake, consent, to take what is offered.
Acceptance - in human psychology - a person's assent to the reality of a situation, recognizing a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it.
The word, accept, used as a verb, can be a positive experience. I accept your compliment. I accept with pleasure a thoughtful gift. I accept your perspective.
The word, acceptance, in human psychology is much more challenging, often requiring great courage, strength and energy to work through difficult experiences in life. Awareness, identification, causes, solutions are phases of the process. Eventually acceptance may come into the picture. Acceptance of events or circumstances that happen beyond our control does not occur overnight, and involves layers of healing. There is not timetable when acceptance may come.
The young woman who has cut my hair for almost four years recently had a miscarriage. She and her husband were devastated. They are self-described planners, and a miscarriage was not in their timetable for becoming parents. Sending a card after I received her email was my initial response of compassion and care. When I saw her three weeks later she said, "Every day gets better. We're getting better."
Time and the outpouring of love from family and friends, were helping her move from a place of broken-heartedness toward a place of peace and acceptance.
I am no expert on this topic as I struggle to reach a place of acceptance for several challenging areas. I can already see that what acceptance looks like for one person may not be the same for another.
My friend who cuts my hair accepted cards, gestures of love from family and friends, and a visit from her mother who lived out of state. All of these acts of kindness helped her move closer to a place where she could accept what happened, always remembering the baby she lost late in the first trimester.
A lot of us deal with more private or complicated concerns for which we'll never receive cards or loving thoughts from friends and family who live close by or far away. How does acceptance happen for wounds so deep they aren't something you can share?
Here are some suggestions.
1. Acknowledge you cannot walk this path on your own. Ask God for strength and courage to persevere as you tackle layers of wound by yourself or with a professional.
2. Write about what happened, your feelings, including injustice and unfairness related to what occurred. Being honest as you pour through events or circumstances that robbed you of a full experience of life is helpful.
3.Exercise regularly. Take a walk, swim a few laps, join a yoga class. Working through difficulties takes a lot of energy, but can also generate restlessness which impairs focus and concentration. Exercise can help diffuse excess energy restlessness brings.
4. Discover a creative outlet. Bake cookies. Get a box of crayons or paints. Associate a color with your feelings. Draw a circle or a set of lines using that color. Write a few words that describe what the color means to you in the moment.
5. Do something for someone else.
6. Keep a gratitude journal.
7. Stay close to God in ways you find meaningful.
8. Create a mantra to write on an index card and repeat every morning.
a. Choose a name for God. _______________________
b. Add these words: "Help me find acceptance."
c. Name the loss or what you are trying to accept.
d. The mantra I created is - "Comforting shepherd, lead me to find acceptance to be present in and to my body."
9. Take care of yourself. Recognize what steps you have to take when you get overwhelmed or exhausted.
10. Celebrate gains when they occur even if seemingly insignificant. Going to the grocery store, returning a book to the library, teaching a class, employment, all of which when you are working toward acceptance indicates the tasks of daily living are within reach and attainable.
Acceptance frees me to move into other parts of life, not minimizing or forgetting my experiences, but in some way lessening the pain of the hurt. Acceptance may mean continuing with life even though you do not feel well, but realizing you are never alone, God is with you.
I savor, with gratitude, the pockets of peace that come, resting deeply in God's mercy and compassion.