The earth here is in the transformation of long-awaited spring. The sprouting of flowering bulbs in our front yard, and the early garlic, chives, and rhubarb already sprouting in the garden. It’s early for us here in the Midwest this year, but so very welcome. The hope the earth offers as it brings new life is hardly comparable. The closest thing I can find is the hope of new life when it comes true in the soul; when we are at that place when something sprouts new. Even though small, we know it is new because, often without realizing it, we know our soul-terrain and we have lived the barrenness of its lifeless places.
Like the earth when it’s ready with warmth, light, and water to accept new life, our souls need acceptance to grow new life from the fodder of the living we do day-to-day.
After Awareness, this is the second movement of the soul in the transformational process: Acceptance.
In fact, acceptance may even be more fluid than being a “second movement”; it may be the first, middle, and last movement of every bit of transformation. Acceptance of ourselves is the fertile ground from which new life always sprouts. Acceptance, which brings a sense of love and belonging, is inherently opposed to shame, and shame is always counterproductive to transformation. As long as we live without acceptance, we will live without transformation.
This post is Part Two of four in my Noticing Transformational Moments series. It also includes an optional imaginative experience, so these movements of transformation can take that necessary journey from learning about something to knowing it deeply inside.
So, what is acceptance?
Because I am so impressed with the person of Jesus Christ, I’d like to start with him in considering acceptance. Try to pull your thoughts away from your experience of the church, your thoughts about politics and those who have slapped the name of Jesus or the views of the entire church on their ideologies. Let’s focus instead on the person of Jesus as found in the Scriptures.
Jesus comes to each encounter with another person with an acceptance of what is. He consistently drew to himself the people who were not accepted in other places. Why do you think that was? Because he was wildly and uncomfortably accepting; he created a sense of belonging for those people who were, at best, marginally accepted elsewhere. He is not approving of their sin, in fact, he generally confronts it outright. But he is so wildly accepting of others that he angered all the religious “commandment-fulfilling” people.
The first one is this: that acceptance means approval. These two are not the same. Accepting us for who we are, with our mixed up motivations, deep shame, and insecurities is the work of God. His Love would be no Love at all if it approved of our willing sins and the heaped-upon-us shame that destroy our souls. It would be insufficient Love incapable of transforming us. But God’s love, which does not turn away from brokenness, is all-sufficient because it sees us, all of us, and Loves us. It sees the truest us and is utterly comfortable accepting us in our brokenness without approving of those things that destroy us. This Love is complete. It is much fuller than a “love the sinner, hate the sin” response. It is a love that can be trusted in every sense of the word.
Notice how your body feels. Are you relaxed? Is your jaw clenched? Is your stomach in knots? Is your heart racing? Simply notice.
Notice where you are in the room. Are you looking into the room or are you sitting in the room?
If fear or anxieties are there with you accept them as one of your visitors, refrain from judging your fear or anxiety as something wrong with you. This is part of our human condition: the besetting and the possible all woven together. Recibir it. Welcome all of this to your imagined setting and sit with that, knowing God is there, too. God is much more comfortable with this scenario than you likely are. God knows how to untangle these places, God knows your deepest longings, God loves without fear.
Then, breath. Breath with all these parts of you exposed. Breath in life. Breath in possibility. Breath in Hope. Breath in Trust. Breath in Presence. Stay in this place long enough to get out of your head, where your judgments call, and simply rest. Notice God’s openness to you. Expect A New Way forward in the presence of such Love.
Next: A New Way
The next post will be about the third movement in transformation, which is receiving A New Way. We listen for what our new way is now that we have been exposed and accepted in all our complexities of sin and shame. While we can’t experience transformation while remaining in judgment, we can enter into discernment, moving along with the inherently invitational Spirit of God. And that’s the only hint I will give you as to the next post, which will likely be interrupted by the birth of our next child (and a post about that, I imagine!). I look forward to being in the space with you again soon as we continue this journey of noticing transformational moments in our daily lives.
I would love to hear your thoughts on engaging this journey.
Until next time,