In short, acceptance is the courage to keep on living and loving in the face of inevitable loss. It can be faked through resignation, which means to “resign” from being bothered, hurt, disturbed, caring, or attached with one’s heart.
Resignation is the act of withdrawing feelings, needs, desire, longings, and hope from the risks of living. The focus of resignation is survival, complete minimization of heartache. Resignation says, “It is what it is, and so move on,” but one really doesn’t because the heart is left behind.
The focus of acceptance is living, the never-ending struggle with heartache. Acceptance says, “It is what it is, and it really hurts or even tears me apart within; how do I stay in the living?” That focus is what makes acceptance a courageous act of the heart. It becomes the fight to remain a feeling, needing, desiring, longing, and hoping person amidst the realities that come with going into life with one’s heart fully involved.
We live amidst four territories that can challenge acceptance to the core of our hearts, making resignation seem like a good option unless we receive help.
We struggle with darkness, not being able to see the way to go or the way through times of loss and trouble. We need light, the aid of God and others to show us what we cannot see. It comes from the cry out of prayer and the call out for others to show me what I cannot see. Even a pinprick of light can show me the next step to take. With light, we can take the next step through the darkness.
We struggle with destruction, the reality that anything which can be built can also be destroyed. We need creativity, the inborn ability to join with others to find a way to recreate. Recreation comes with the willingness to ask and receive help. When I don’t know how to begin again, someone else has been where I am. They have found what I need to find so that I can build again. The ones who have been where I am can show me how to put the “hand to the plow.”
We struggle with despair, the diminishment of hope when darkness and destruction have overwhelmed us. Hope can be diminished, but it cannot be destroyed. Hope is aroused and even renewed when someone meets us in our grief. We are met in the pain of loss when someone dares to ask us what we had dreamed, wished, yearned for that has disappeared or been taken from us. We are met in our sadness.
With the help of others’ love, we face the pain of hope. We face the cost of having moved towards hope being fulfilled, which was not fulfilled. In so doing, we face the loss of what we had or yearned for—our grief. In that grief, we also face the paradoxical reality that our grief is inextricably connected to hope. We don’t stop yearning. Our grief testifies to our yearning. The help of others can arouse our hope, and call us to reach through despair towards the voices of care.
We struggle against death, the inevitable conclusion of all things alive on earth. While in our hearts we experience death as an anomaly, it is still a reality. Through the light we receive, the creativity others show us, and the help to hope again, we can face the inevitability of a reality that goes so against the eternity in our hearts. The light, the creativity, and the hope allow us to have courage—the ability to keep heart in the midst of reality—in the face of death.
Acceptance is not a condition. It is a hard-won result of reaching for God and others to do for us what we cannot do alone. Acceptance creates in us the gift of fighting for light, creativity, and hope, and having the courage to live amidst the four struggles that can rob the heart of life and love. It allows us to step into darkness, destruction, even despair and death, knowing that we can take light, creativity, hope and courage into them.
Acceptance that we receive, also, can make us into people of heart. We can become the helping hand that knows that God and others are with us in these very real realities of living.
Around every corner in our futures are wonder and loss, quest and defeat, success and more challenge. Resignation cannot take us around the corner. Acceptance can. Without going around the corner, we will miss the wonder, quest, and success. When we go around the corner, we will also face loss, defeat and challenge. Accepting this fact, and accepting how we are created to need others and God amidst life’s inevitabilities, gives us the willingness to risk, live, and love. Acceptance allows us to risk, live, and love, knowing full well the struggles that will be faced.