Acceptance is a two-fold virtue: accepting yourself and accepting others. How difficult is it for you to acknowledge and accept your own limitations and weaknesses? How difficult is it for you to accept the same in others? Do you hold others to a higher standard than yourself, because you expect more from others than you do of yourself?
Finding acceptance in our lives requires that we first unlock the door to the interior self. It is there that we commune with God. We discover and come to accept who we are, as God has created us to be: in His image and likeness. In looking at the interior self, we assess our strengths and weaknesses; our possibilities and limitations. We acknowledge our sins. Within the depths of the interior self, we come to accept our strengths and possibilities as gifts from God. We come to accept our weaknesses and limitations as crosses to bear willingly and gratefully for the love of Christ. We seek redemption for our sins; accepting what cannot be undone, but vowing not to repeat the sin.
Romano Guardini, in his book, Learning the Virtues that Lead Us to God, defines the virtue of acceptance as follows:
What is the presupposition for all moral effort if it is to be effective, to change what is amiss, to strengthen what is feeble, and to balance what is unseen? …I believe, we would have to answer, ‘It is the acceptance of what is, the acceptance of reality, your own and that of the people around you and of the time in which you live (p. 25).
That brings me to the second door to unlock: Accepting the reality of people around us. We cannot change other people. We can only accept them as they are – that is a reality. We can pray for others who have strayed from the path of moral virtue that they will change their ways; but the desire for change must come from within – the interior self – with the assistance of God.
Bottom line: If we cannot accept ourselves as God made us to be, how can we accept others for who they present themselves to be? Finding acceptance begins interiorly and works itself outward towards others.
How do we accept others and be true to ourselves? We’ll address the answer to that question in our next reflection. Don’t miss it!