Everyone always hears how God has a plan and His plan is good, which is true. It’s easy to accept the plans God has when they are in line with yours, but what about when God’s plans are far from what you’ve always dreamt? I always had the dream of marrying my high school sweetheart and living happily ever after. I also had the dream of attending Berry College and living on my own away from home. But God had other plans for me. Big plans! I just couldn’t see that in moments of heartbreak.
Many of my dreams thus far, some big and some small, have either fallen apart or not happened at all. I’ve lived a long season in the desert, wondering why God would do this and that to my life. I went through a season of being angry at God and angry at myself until I read a little book a sweet friend gave me. This book is all about acceptance and I never thought it would impact my life to the extent it has.
First, I’d like to share some things that I’ve learned from this book:
The attitude of mind you maintain throughout each day is the most important part of acceptance. It will directly affect how much joy you feel. If you’re having a bad attitude about one situation, it’s going to negatively impact other areas of your life as well. I always tell myself that the only disability in life is in fact a bad attitude. Want to feel empowered? It starts with the realization that no one can hurt you unless you let them because no matter how bad the circumstance, you get to choose what kind of attitude you’re going to have in response.
2) The Kindness of God
The book defines this as God’s ability to make things work out for the best, and that’s simply what He will do! God will bring good out of evil and glory out of pain because that’s just the kind of perfect God He is. His heart breaks with yours (Isaiah 63:9) and He’s not going to leave you alone in your distress because He loves you SO much!
Contentment lies in not getting what you want, but enjoying what you have. No human being is so wise and powerful that he can control circumstances. Only God is powerful enough to control all things and if God allows it, then it must be best for you because the kindness of God will always reflect His competency and faithfulness.
God is the ultimate chauffeur and best friend in one! Think about it: He doesn’t just know what is best for you, but He wants what’s best for you. His desire is to see you full of happiness and joy. My favorite illustration talks about how God is the driver and we need only to surrender and sit in the passenger seat, enjoying the scenery as He takes us on a beautiful journey called life.
When we’re hurting it’s so easy to run to worldly comforts, but all that does is mask your hurt, providing temporary relief from the pain. Only God can heal your deepest wounds, and that requires taking a step towards Him. For so long I planted my feet on a boat of false hope and what I thought was contentment until I realized it was time to take a step of faith into the waters of acceptance because God won’t reveal to you your next until you accept your now. I read and re-read this acceptance book so many times and continually put off leaning closer to God because it hurt too much to face the pain that still resided in my heart. But when I did take that step closer to Jesus, I began to feel more and more thankful for the broken relationships and broken dreams and less confused, bitter, and anxious.
I look at acceptance as the final step in the healing process, but it’s important to understand that healing is not linear. It’s work every day. Some days will be tough, but the great days will definitely outnumber the bad days. Healing comes with honest prayers, and it comes with the anger and sadness and anxiety. A good friend of mine recently shared with me that pain is like a stake stuck in the ground, and rather than just asking God to remove to stake (heal all the pain), you should ask God to help you dig around the stake (process and grieve over whatever is causing that pain) because it will then be easier to pull the stake out. Now that’s easier said than done. Your progress in healing will not always be visible, but take heart and persevere through the pain even when you feel like giving up on God, because He will never give up on you.
Not getting what you want really sucks, but looking back on it I’m glad I ended up where I have because God’s plans are so much greater than anything we could ever dream of. It hurts a lot and you may be discouraged, but take that step towards acceptance and focus on the joy that’s to come because you will not regret it. At some point you just have to let go of what you thought should happen and begin living in what is happening because we will achieve happiness by forcing ourselves to accept what God wants for us. And He desires to bless you in so many beautiful ways! Below is the serenity prayer that has served me well through a time of healing and acceptance, and I hope it will serve you well.