Monday, November 21, 2011

She's fighting with the sky, she thinks she can

I'm surprisingly strong willed. I say surprisingly because when people first meet me they often think I'm sweet and gentle. When you get to know me, you find out I'm pretty strong willed. I want what I want, when I want it. I don't like to be told no and I don't like to wait. If it's at all within my power to make something I want happen, I will do it. I will go to great lengths to do it. In fact, often when I'm told something can't or shouldn't be done, it kind of makes me want to do it more. I definitely have a stubborn and rebellious streak mixed into my make up.

I've spent more time than I like to think about being frustrated, upset, or even depressed about things in life that were not to my liking. When people, circumstances, or my own actions haven't lived up to my expectations or desires, I have been very disappointed or disillusioned. Sometimes, out of those emotions, I have wanted to abandon relationships or commitments just because I didn't want to deal with the incongruousness of what I wanted and reality.

One of the best lessons God has ever taught me is to accept things the way that they are today. I'm not saying things can't or won't ever change, I'm just saying this is how they are today, and you might as well accept it. Acceptance is especially important when something is not within your power....or change.

The practice of accepting things the way they are has changed my life in surprising ways. I have actually found that I begin to appreciate things that once bothered me, when I just accept them. Some examples of things I've practiced accepting are: the ways in which people behave (probably the biggest one), the way I was created, limitations in life, waiting, being told no, doing things I don't want to do, and even the weather (hot, humid fall days, anyone?).

I love it that God has given us the brains and often the means to change things we want to change. Human creativity and ingenuity is amazing and having the means to make those things reality is a blessing.  But when we hit a wall, when we run up against something that we can't seem to change with our ingenuity and sheer willpower, I believe that is also a blessing. In a much more veiled way.

I think it makes God smile when we use everything He's given us to make life better for others and ourselves. Every once in a while, I think He likes to remind us that He's in charge. There is a lot of peace (and even joy) to be found in not fighting Him. 

Just try it. A difficult person in your life? A parent, spouse, or friend who doesn't behave the way you'd like them to? A job you don't love? A body you wish was different? Illness? Old age? Heat and humidity in the middle of November? I'm not saying you have to love any of these things, but try just accepting them. Just saying, "OK, this is the way it is". Kind of like accepting that they sky is blue or the grass is green. No one asked you what color you wanted the sky to be and no one cares if you wish it were a different color; it is what it is.

That's the phrase I kept saying during the season when God was teaching me about acceptance: it is what it is. I even annoyed myself, but it just kept ringing so true in my heart, mind, and spirit. Sometimes life is what it is and you might as well get through it with as much grace as you can. And sometimes even joy.

"...we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." -Romans 3:3-5 ESV

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