February 18, 2024
I’m sitting in the church office for the last time writing this message. I’m waiting for movers to come pick-up the desks, a file cabinet, and a few other miscellaneous things. I can’t help but reminisce over the last ten years of my ministry here in this building, and the decades of others who served the spiritual needs of all who sought better lives along a pathway that emphasizes positive living, personal responsibility, and spiritual expansion.
And now there are new chapters ahead, not only for me, but for all of you, as well. We are called to take the richness of what we have learned and practiced into our next steps. Change is one of the most certain things in our lives, and how we meet those changes defines our character and our success. There are times when we want to resist change, creating stress, resistance, and fear. At other times we allow ourselves to be carried through change with the support of faith and grace. Whether we resist or allow is our choice.
Daily Word – ACCEPTANCE
I practice acceptance and find peace.
In the past I have resisted unwelcome situations and he wanted outcomes. Over time, I have learned that my resistance did little more than leave me agitated and unhappy.
I have learned to trade resistance for acceptance. Accepting situations as they are does not mean I like what is happening, but it does mean I am willing to be present to it without resistance or struggle.
From that place, I am better able to work toward creating better conditions for myself and others.
When I practice acceptance, I invite the presence of God to inspire and comfort me. I shift my attention from what might feel wrong to that which is always right: the absolute, unchanging goodness of God.
Not that I am referring to bring in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. -Philippians 4:11
Valentines Day is placed right in the middle of the month of February, making it a month drawing our attention to love. Love is that emotion of closeness and caring that we feel for another. It is a state of open heartedness that creates connections with others. The giving and receiving of love is both infilling and uplifting. To love someone is to want the very best for them and to love unconditionally is to want the very best for them whether it is reciprocated or not. Love is expressed in romance, in friendship, in service and in sacrifice. Love moves us to be more than we thought we could ever be, to do more that we thought we could ever achieve and to change in ways we never thought possible. Love contains an element of the miraculous.
Over the last several years I have learned that love is more than a sentiment or a rush of feeling. This came about when I was introduced to a wonderful book by David Richo called How to be an Adult in Relationships. It radically changed my understanding of what is to love someone. His perspective brought love beyond passion and feeling to practical behaviors that demonstrated loving regard, even of those I didn’t even like. This was a huge relief to me because it weighed on my soul that I couldn’t seem to get past the inability to fulfill the directive “love one another” towards those I had no emotional connection to.
What I learned in this book gave me a doorway to loving kindness that I desperately needed and wanted. It inspired me to speak about it many times and I turn, once again, to its wisdom to share with you.
Basically, Richo writes that mature love in relationships embodies five aspects. He calls them the five A’s. He says that these five A’s are the essential ingredients of love, respect, security, and support. They also form the essence of spiritual practice. The five A’s are attention, acceptance, appreciation, affection, and allowing. Of these five, I want to expand on the quality of acceptance as an aspect of love.
Acceptance means embracing others in their wholeness. We don’t fragment them, only approving of those parts we judge worthy and rejecting the parts that rub us the wrong way. Through acceptance we respect another's feelings, choices, and personal traits. This creates a safe field in which to be authentic. Acceptance is unconditional since it is an attitude of validation of another’s lifestyle and choices even when we don’t agree with them.
In acceptance, we are regarded as worthy. This is a necessary element of self-esteem for we are not compared to anyone else. Rather, we are trusted, empowered, and understood, just as we are. There’s a wonderful quote by Killian Noe that fits in beautifully here –
To be known without being loved is terrifying.
To be loved without being known has no power to change us.
But to be deeply known and deeply loved transforms us.
Acceptance paves the way to non-resistance, which in turn allows us to surrender. Surrender is a key component to entering the flow of divine grace and wisdom. Surrender is an act of trust in our first Unity principle which affirms one presence and one power as the universe and as my life AND that this presence and power is absolute good. Many times our material life situations and circumstances challenge this belief, however, when we allow it, divine goodness prevails. It can’t help to because that is the divine nature. Resistance and personal control only creates stress and imbalance.
Now some of you may have a swirl of Yabuts going through your mind. How can one accept those who do harm and situations of suffering and injustice? Acceptance does not mean agreement with other ideologies or lifestyles. It doesn’t mean a lack of personal boundaries or putting ourselves in situations of high risk. What it does imply is allowing others to be themselves and then decide on the level of engagement in which you participate and how that participation looks.
To be the presence of God in the world is to be love. Love is our deepest nature and our most important calling. Receiving love is necessary for health and well-being. Giving love is necessary for our soul’s fulfillment. As you give love to those around you, be they intimate partners, strangers, enemies, casual relationships, or yourselves, let the practice of acceptance be a tool helping you along the way.
I wish you every blessing. May your week ahead bring you joy.