Freedom Through Acceptance

by Jan Silvious

“Once you accept the blow, the disappointment, you’re free…”

Freedom is extremely important to me. And yet, I have discovered how easily I can become a prisoner in my mind and heart when 1 try to hold out for something I want, but probably will never have. We become a prisoner to disappointment when we hold unrealistic expectations for a relationship, for example. We become a prisoner to bitterness when we harbor feelings of revenge toward someone who has inflicted pain. We restrict freedom when we refuse to accept the realities of life.

You cannot make someone love you. You cannot make your child bright or talented if he has only average ability. You cannot make your mate understanding if he or she is emotionally on another level.

Try as we may, we cannot force the people or circumstances of our world to live up to our expectations. And the sooner we decide to “accept it and move on,” the happier we will be.

The Apostle Paul understood this principle when he wrote: “One thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 3:13,14).

Paul had to accept the fact that he would never live as the Hebrew of the Hebrews he had been groomed to be. He had to accept the fact that he was guilty of persecuting Christians, a fact that he acknowledged and hated. But to continue beating himself would only have made him a prisoner to himself. To recognize that God has another agenda is to accept the freedom of hope and life beyond disappointment.

As Arthur Gordon writes:

Just as acceptance has its rewards, so nonacceptance has its penalties. We knew a couple once who had three children. The oldest was a girl, sweet-tempered but very slow. It was clear that there was a degree of mental retardation, but the parents could not bring themselves to accept it. They tried to pretend that the child had normal abilities. They put her in schools where she could not keep up. They begged for performance she could not give. They tried to rearrange the world to fit her limitations, meanwhile neglecting the emotional needs of their other children. They meant well; they thought they were doing the right thing. But their refusal to accept their child as she really was made life a burden for all of them?

Acceptance is not apathy. Apathy overtakes us when we lose the will to change what can be changed. Acceptance is realizing that there are things that only God can change, and we leave it to His wisdom and will as to whether or not He will change them.

There is wonderful freedom in really believing God when He says, “Cast all of your care on me . . .1 care for you.” As long as you understand that your expectations are held carefully in the hand of One who cares for you with an everlasting love, then you can accept your limitations, the failings of your loved ones, and the disappointment of frustrated plans.

Remember, “Once you have accepted the blow, you’re free”—free to go on to new endeavors that may turn out better than you ever dreamed possible. That’s my prayer today for you.

From The 5-Minute Devotional
©Zondervan 1991

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