"Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, and they're always glad you came..."
Acceptance is a powerful thing. Feeling accepted in the now is the only way one is open to explore change in one's own life or come to a place of self-acceptance.
There is tremendous value in each person. There are a lot of people who agree with this in principle, but who think it doesn't apply to them. I was one of them. I also paid lip service to this thought as it pertained to others, but the unwritten and unspoken corollary always was, "...as long as they're like me, or as long as they do what I am comfortable with." I felt threatened by anyone who thought or acted in a way that I didn't.
And then I went to a place and met a group of people where they really believe that everyone has value just the way he or she is. (And no, it wasn't church.) I believed myself to be as different from them as night is from day. Yet, I was greeted at the door with a smile and a warm handshake. I was accepted the way I was, whether I contributed or not. And as I continued to meet with these people, I was loved. Not for what I could one day become, not for what I did or didn't say or do - but just the way I was.
From this group of people, I learned and experienced acceptance, in all its forms. I'm still learning.
These are some of the things I am starting to understand:
1. God loves me just the way I am. He accepts me as I come to Him, no strings attached, no demands.
2. I can accept myself just the way I am because God accepts me that way. I can admit my weaknesses; He knows them. He is at work within me. He is in charge of my healing process and gives me permission to stop and rest when I need to.
3. I can accept other people the way they are too. I can let them be who they are and make their own decisions. I can also let them make their own mistakes without feeling the need to step in and stop them. I don't need to rescue them from the consequences of their actions. God is at work in their lives too and I need to let Him do His work in them without my interference.
4. The level of freedom, peace and/or contentment I have is directly associated with the level of acceptance I both feel from God, and give to myself and others.
Acceptance is part of learning - not just in my head but deep down - that I am powerless over other people. For someone who is addicted to controlling others through manipulation, guilt, shame, and intimidation, this is a very powerful part of my recovery from that pointless and stressful existence. Learning to receive God's acceptance and to accept myself and others "as is" has been liberating, and is transforming me slowly.
I'm not really sure of all He has in store for me, but the journey is sure getting interesting.