CHRISTIAN LIFE IN LONDON | February 2024 EDITION
Acceptance
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Published November 2023
By Melanie Stevenson


Photo by Photo by Marcos Paulo Prado on Unsplash

In the past several months, I've embraced the idea of acceptance, and it has been a game-changer.

What do I mean by acceptance? It's the idea that I can release the need to control people, situations, or circumstances. I can choose to show up and be present, and I can let others be who they are without trying to change them. I can flow in a situation without imposing my preferences. Acceptance releases my efforts to control things and makes room for peace in each moment or relationship.

Acceptance allows people and relationships to be what they are at present.

It means letting go of our projections of how we wish others would behave. When we cling to an idea of a person or how we desire our relationship to exist, we may grow hurt and disappointed when it fails to unfold as we imagined, or we end up injuring others with our prescriptions on how things “should” be.

But isn't it unfair to place rigid expectations or standards on others that we desire they attain because we think that is the ideal way to exist? Aren’t they also on their own journey and growing and learning, as are we? Perhaps they don’t share your standards or ideals. Can we simply love them, release our prescribed ideas of how we wish they would be, and let God do the work He desires in their lives in His timing, not ours?

Acceptance opens us up to possibilities.

Acceptance releases our expectations and imaginings of how we want a situation to unfold. How often do we cling to an ideal outcome only to become frazzled, annoyed, or discouraged when it doesn’t turn out how we desire? Acceptance means we can show up free of expectations but open and excited about possibilities. Living in this manner places control back into the hands of its rightful owner—God.

This open-handed demeanor, and the freedom it offers, lends a posture open toward possibilities or conversations that might not otherwise arise. It leaves room for God to surprise us with outcomes and interactions we couldn't have thought to ask for or imagine. It allows us to live in this moment and be thankful for the blessings we have right before us without micromanaging or missing all God's desires.

Acceptance isn't resignation, nor is it without boundaries.

Acceptance is a life-giving approach to showing up with others and being present without expectations. Acceptance doesn't seek to exert pressure, constrict people to behave a certain way, or force a desired outcome in the relationship. It means loving everyone like Jesus did and continues to do for us. If asked for our perspective, advice, or guidance, we offer it, but we rest in the moment, peacefully present.

Acceptance isn’t a free ride to dismiss abuse or toxic behavior. There may be situations where we need to exert loving boundaries or have difficult conversations, but we understand that it’s not our job to change people—it’s God’s. Our behavior and actions speak louder than words or pressure. In addition, we have our own quirks and weaknesses. Acceptance makes room for differing opinions and life’s messiness. It kindles trust, humility, and openness in relationships.

Acceptance displaces fear.

There is a peace that comes with acceptance because when we accept a situation or others, we discover there is no longer the need to control them or the environment out of fear. We cease to try to impress others, steer the conversation to specific topics, or demand our own way of engaging. Acceptance is offers grace, love, and respect to others, and embraces the moment with them instead of forcing a desired outcome. It’s flowing in God’s love with His Spirit, free of fear. It’s yet another form of trusting God with our lives and worshipping him.

Acceptance is a path to contentment, love, and peace.

When we can show up free from the need to control outcomes and others, we establish peace within ourselves and our relationships. It’s an open-handed way of approaching the world and leaves our hearts and minds receptive to others and God moving in our lives and theirs. We exhibit a loving, gracious response to the presence of others and a peaceful approach to situations. Acceptance isn’t throwing up our hands and sitting back and doing nothing. We still seek excellence and are good stewards of our gifts, time, and talents, but we are sensitive to where and when God chooses to distribute them instead of striving on our own.

If you’re having trouble grasping the idea of acceptance, here are a few suggestions:

1. Take people or situations to God in prayer. Release your expectations, pour out your heart’s desire to God, and leave it all with God as many times as needed.

2. Practice showing up at places and with people, open to possibility and without fearfully trying to control your environment.

3. Focus on where you need to change before trying to change others. God may have things to show you about yourself and why circumstances or people may be triggering or difficult for you. These words of Jesus may shed light on this: “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.” (Matthew 7:3-5)

4. Check your love barometer with these verses: “Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8) I bless you with God’s perspective and attitude as you walk with people and into places He has for you!

Award-winning author Melanie Stevenson
Born in England, Melanie has never lost her love of British tea and gardens. Her family immigrated to Canada when she was five years old and settled in southern Ontario. Years later, she entered the University of Waterloo as an English major and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

Growing up, Melanie was passionate about reading, writing, and drawing. She wrote her first novel at age twelve. Since becoming a Christian at age eighteen, she has filled countless journal pages with prayers which became the inspiration behind her devotionals.

One More Tomorrow (September 2019) is Melanie’s debut novel (the first line of which was conceived in an airport terminal) and won Best Romance at the 2020 Word Guild Awards. Her second book, Soul Focus – Trials (November 2019), is a selection of devotionals written over a span of ten years. Melanie was the winner of Best New Canadian Author at the 2020 Word Guild Awards, and received runner up for Best New Manuscript at the 2021 Word Guild Awards.

Passionate about the arts, Melanie is also an abstract painter who specializes in acrylic and oil. For over twenty-five years, she has been involved in theatre and has written and directed numerous stage plays. She continues to teach acting classes to young people and adults.

She and her husband, Ralph, are parents of four amazing humans: Kurtis, Konnor, Elanna, and Keira. For eighteen years, Melanie homeschooled and passed on her love of the arts to her children.

Melanie is passionate about telling others of the healing love of Jesus, and championing others in their faith journey through both the written and spoken word.