Regardless of trends and the downward spiral of our divisive culture, I’m naming this new season the “Age of Acceptance”. We all feel the anger, the frustration, the discontent with waves of divisiveness from every direction. Doesn’t matter your age or where you live. You hear it at work, in the streets, and it SCREAMS at you on the tv, news and social media. The voice of the world today wants you to believe “we all hate each other; we are all too different and can’t get along”. But do we really?
Where did this voice come from and more importantly, why are we believing it? Who benefits from us becoming more divided and ballooning hate? I don’t believe this, do you? I believe we need more acceptance not less.
Acceptance does not mean agreement. Just like forgiveness does not mean you can treat me badly without limits. Acceptance has healthy boundaries. Acceptance understand history because it doesn’t want to repeat it. You don’t have to accept unethical behavior, law breaking, abuse, intolerance, hate, mean spiritedness, neglect, etc. Acceptance doesn’t mean making everyone my bestie. Acceptance doesn’t mean fake hugging and pretending. Despite these things acceptance is not, do not disregard the power it holds.
Acceptance means you don’t have to believe what I do. Acceptance means you don’t have to look like I do. Acceptance means you don’t have to act like I do. Acceptance says you are an individual with talents, and I am an individual with talents and we can coexist without harming one another. In fact, we can likely find ways to grow and collaborate, so we are stronger together in our acceptance. Acceptance means despite the past, you didn’t get up today to despise or harm me. Acceptance means you can take me as I am, warts and all. Acceptance means we might never get along and agree but you can still get up every day and do you.
Acceptance involves giving grace. I’m not perfect. You’re not perfect. Acceptance is not punitive. I can accept that each of our humanness has limits to the capacity of our output. We are not all created equal, but we are all created to embody and use our gifts and talents. We all can fail at times. Acceptance forgives because we also want to be forgiven for our bad days.
Acceptance involves love. Love does not mean you are right, and I am wrong, or I am right and you are wrong. Love does not mean without boundary. Love does not mean blanket acceptance of all things without limit. Accepting in love means without judgement. Judging you is not my job. Judging often involved assumptions and brings other baggage and lays it upon a person. My history, other history, other people’s mistakes are not yours. Yours are not mine. Accepting in love means purifying the transaction between us and removing judgement.
Acceptance is self-reflective. It is not my job to hold you accountable. It is not your job to hold me accountable. That is my job. It is my job to reflect on my actions and mindset to assure that I am acting in my gifts and talents to the best of my ability. Acceptance owns behavior and mistakes. My self-reflection must own my part of the mess. I must accept that I have errors and biases that I alone need to address and correct.
Acceptance repents. My bad behavior is mine. I will seek to change my mindset and behavior. But I cannot repent or make restitution for anyone else’s bad behavior. I am an individual. I can control me.
Acceptance lives in today. Acceptance understands that “letting go of dead yesterdays and unborn tomorrows” (Win the Day, Mark Batterson) is how we improve and move ahead. If we are steering a car forward by looking in the rearview mirror, we will crash. I will interact today with those around me based on being present in the moments of today, not the dead yesterdays.
Acceptance dignifies. Looking at another human without judgement, giving grace, having love, repenting and staying in the present goes back to recognizing humanity. To give dignity to another person, we must first have self-control. We must first go through the rules of acceptance. When we do, our actions and words toward another person will esteem them, honor and respect them.
Acceptance assumes positive intent. By definition in Webster’s 1828 dictionary, acceptance means “favorable reception”. Are their bad people in the world? Does evil act through people? Are people in the world still oppressed and abused? Yes, Yes, Yes. Instead of treating everyone like they are a potential enemy, first let us treat each other as potential friends. Assume that everyone you meet has the maturity to accept you for who you are, limitations, differences and all. Give people the benefit of the doubt until they prove differently. Then accept and not judge even then.
Without acceptance, we feel the energy of disrespect and denigration. Let’s not focus on where we are different, but where we are the same. Remove judgement from our thoughts and eyes and look upon each individual we encounter with acceptance.
Each of us has the power of acceptance and to change the world into “the Age of Acceptance”.