In the last three weeks, my life has been turned a bit upside down. Life is change, as a former film prof of mine recently reminded me. I've never been particularly good with change. In the past, I've either resisted it and suffered immensely, or I've run away to start over -- only I'd bring all the old bag and baggage with me that was never dealt with.
In the midst of this current round of uncertainty and movement, I've been reminded that the appropriate response to any kind of big change is to offer up thanks and gratitude. But I know from my own experience that empty words of gratitude don't amend my heart, and they only end up tasting bitter rather than being sincere and true thanksgiving to God. I'd wager most people have experienced this at some point. I know of a few tender souls who struggle with it daily, in fact.
The other morning as I sat on my porch with my morning coffee, watching the finches duke it out at the feeder, I felt the very near Presence, and a word resounded in my mind: acceptance.
Whoa! Okay, wait, what? You want me to accept all this crappy stuff that's happened and is happening? You want me to acknowledge that it exists and that I can't change it and to accept it? What are you, nuts?
Now, the Serenity Prayer comes to mind. "Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference." And of course there are other, more modern, less pious versions, such as "Lord grant me the serenity to accept the stupid." But that's not so helpful. And even in its pure form, I don't think this prayer fully expresses what I'm getting at here.
Acceptance. It doesn't mean roll over and die. It doesn't mean not to feel your feelings. It does mean to feel them and give them to God, to let them go, rather than wrap yourself up in them like a shroud of victimhood from which to accuse the world's injustice. It doesn't mean you don't speak truth about justice, righteousness, or mercy. It does mean you live your best life and allow others their God-given free will. It means we understand that God's will is always present, always moving, even when humans choose otherwise. God's will cannot be overwritten. It involves trust. And as that acceptance takes hold, true gratitude can begin to germinate.
Once the gratitude takes hold, all things become blessings. You will see the people, situations, and things around you that you have taken for granted, and you'll give thanks. You will see the problem or change or situation you are facing as a blessing, and you'll desire God's will to be done (and trust He has plans for you). And only then will you have serenity. But it all starts with acceptance.
You cannot give Me thanks until you have fully accepted that things are the way they are, through no action of yours, and that your job is to stay with Me and let Me lead the dance. Trust that I am in control, here. There's no other way. You've tried it the other way, and you know that doesn't work. That leads to anxiety, anger, and depression. Those things make it harder for you to see Me and know My infinite love for you. Remember, I died on the Cross so that you could live. Accepting your cross is part of union with Me.
Lord, grant me the grace to accept all things as my share in the cross and to stay with You, my eyes on You, alone, and my heart open to receive the gifts that are present, which are also from You, in loving trust.