Your attachment to your wishful thinking, longings, and ideas of fairness can trap you in cycles of pointless longing and despair.
Ac-cep-tance n– willingness to believe that something is true.
-the realization of a fact or truth resulting in somebody’s coming to terms with it.
-the tolerating of something without protest
(Encarta World English Dictionary)
Storms happen in life. The unexpected hits suddenly—the loss of a job, the loss of a friend, the end of a marriage, or the end of your ministry as you have known it. In the face of loss—whether disease, injury, accident, set back, crushing event, or the end of life as you know it—we go through stages of denial, bargaining, and finally acceptance.
Acceptance is the place where you pick up the broken pieces and decide how to proceed from here. Regardless of what has happened, moving forward is still an option.
Let’s Talk About It
Much has been written about Admiral Jim Stockdale who was a prisoner of war at the “Hanoi Hilton” for eight years during the Vietnam War. When interviewed by Jim Collins in his book, Good to Great, the question was asked, “How did you deal with it?” Admiral Stockdale responded, “I never doubted not only that I would get out, but also that I would prevail in the end and turn the experience into the defining event of my life, which in retrospect, I would not trade.” He said this about a horrific eight-year experience of torture, deprivation, isolation, and uncertainty.
To the question, “Who didn’t make it out?” he replied, “The optimists. They were the ones who said, ‘We’re going to be out by Christmas.’ And Christmas would come, and Christmas would go. Then they’d say, ‘We are going to be out by Easter.’ And Easter would come and Easter would go. And then Thanksgiving, and then it would be Christmas again. And they died of a broken heart.”
Stockdale summed it up with this life lesson: “You must never confuse faith that you will prevail in the end—which you can never afford to lose—with the discipline to confront the most brutal facts of your current reality, whatever they might be.” Collins wrote, “To this day, I carry a mental image of Stockdale admonishing the optimists: ‘We’re not getting out by Christmas; deal with it!”
Acceptance is the ability to look at your current reality and deal with it. Not in a broken and defeated spirit, but with an awareness that you too will prevail in the end.
In order to thrive in your current reality, you may need to:
- Examine the problem in a positive light. Turn bad situations into something meaningful—taking action gives you a sense of purpose. The business investment wasn’t a failure; it was a valuable learning experience. Focus on what is good. It will give you strength and energy to work with what is wrong or to simply live with uncertainty.
- Explore your strengths and re-label weaknesses as growth areas. You will never know the thrill of conquering new territory if you are ruled by fear.
- Eliminate the negativity. Mentally rehearsing or talking about the bad, ugly, or current difficulties of your life will not improve it. You will prevail because of deliberate daily choices of right thinking.
- Evaluate your options. You are not stuck. Pray for courage to adjust, make changes, or smile instead of frowning. Brainstorm your choices. If you are miserable in your job or facing a layoff, what are your options? I can join a circus, go back to school, find a new job or…
It may be raining but you have an umbrella!
Reprinted with permission from Reflections Magazine.