Once again my mind started going down to a negative place. I quickly went from sad to angry. Soon I began focusing on wanting to right the wrong. Unfortunately the wrong was a long time ago but still triggered feelings of hurt. I was frustrated with myself for being in such a good frame of mind one moment and then just minutes later traveling down to this painful place of no return.
How did this shift happen? Easy. It only took one comment from an innocent friend that went something like this,
“All the old gang got together last night and we had this amazing dessert…”
It wasn’t the dessert or the gathering it was that the “old gang” got together and the reality that it no longer included us. Realizing they were together laughing and enjoying friendships while we were at home on a Saturday night alone just about did me in. Ugh!
Maybe you know the feeling of having your heart hurt in an instance by some reminder from the past or a nudge from the painful present. This is the stuff of real life. Real life is where Jesus wants to make the difference.
God has allowed me to face the truth that I can not control other people and often can’t control circumstances, but the two things I can choose to control are these:
- The direction I take in each situation
- The attitude I carry with me on the journey
I speak of these two choices often, courageously telling women that we have a decision to make when it comes to our attitude. And, though I believe this is true, I also know it’s hard in the moment. I now know how vitally important those two points of choosing actually are. The choice of direction and attitude are vital to our heart health, emotional well being and spiritual growth.
Five years ago things in my life changed. I transitioned out of a long-term ministry poistion, celebrated the weddings of our last two children, made the change to a new church and soon after was diagnosed with breast cancer. After going through the painful valley of confusion, rejection, false accusations and loss of friends, what remained was a hurting heart that has come back to slap me in the face over and over again. And, just when I thought the wound was healed it got jabbed again. An innocent wounding by an unsuspecting friend. Within minutes my attitude began to take a spin and then a spiral. I knew I had to do something, fast.
In that moment I had a choice and so do you. We can choose to spin out and spiral down or we can choose a different attitude. I have been learning that there are three things that lead us on the path to an attitude change.
- Spiritual Strategy Moving Forward
Today I want to focus on the first one…Acceptance.
Many of you are familiar with the Serenity Prayer:
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I can not change
The courage to change the things I can
And, the wisdom to know the difference
The first part is accepting the things I can not change. Acceptance is a key component in turning around a bad attitude or a heart filled with hurt. Acceptance is vital for peace of mind and stability of emotions.
What is it that you can not change? Is it a relationship? A spouse? A child? A health situation? The past? A custody order? Divorce? Maybe it’s being left out or forgotten. Whatever it is, If you can’t change the situation then fighting against it over and over in your mind will only make you hard, stressed and bitter. What would happen if you prayed that serenity prayer? God grant me the peace to accept things as they are…the things I can not change.
Accept: To receive willingly ( accept a gift). To endure without protest or reaction
To accept then means to let go and quit protesting the situation. It doesn’t mean I haven’t hurt or that I don’t wish things were different.
It does mean that when change is out of my control, I choose to let go and trust God with the situation completely. When doing this, it loses it’s power over me.
Considering this, I realized afresh how I had never accepted the change of relationships. I hadn’t accepted that we were no longer included. Each time we were not included it hurt. In my head and heart I fought against this and longed for it to be different—but the difference was out of my control. As long as I fought it, it would continue to hurt me.
So as I noticed myself spiraling I caught the hurt and literally accepted it. For once I just told myself the truth about it—It happened, I will never understand it. I wasn’t able to change it. I must accept—it is what it is! This is the new reality of my situation.New courage to accept what had happened, even though I didn’t like it, began to bring peace. Suddenly it was ok.
We weren’t invited, they might not think of us anymore, but the situation would no longer change me. I am a loving person who likes people and loves Jesus. I would now accept that everyone doesn’t have to like me or love me back. It’s ok. They moved on without me, it hurt, seemed unfair but now it’s ok. I will live according to who I am, not according to what has hurt me. I will love and I will accept the new normal. I will put my big girl panties on and live like a woman who trusts God with the details!
Suddenly my heart was emptied of the struggle. I could be me again. I was free to live with a kind heart—rather then the feisty struggling heart. And, maybe with this new acceptance I could finally make room for new people in my heart too.
What is the reoccuring struggle for you that has been hard to accept? Can you join me finding courage to let go and accept that all things are in God’s hand? All things are not easy, but all things are in his hand.
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challegnes come at you. You know that under pressure your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors.” James 1:2-3 The Message
Could it be that my friend’s comment was a gift that pressured me into turning to God with the pain again? To consider something has to do with how I view it, or my attitude about it. What is your attitude about your current challenges? If they are negative you don’t have to remain bound to that struggle—you can let go—and so can I.
So the first path to turning around a bad attitude begins with acceptance. God grant me the serenity to ACCEPT the things I can not change. When I settle down into acceptance, it’s like putting on my big girl panties and dealing with life as it is. My attitude settles down and a peace, serenity or calm begins to paint it’s hue over my once agitated heart. All is well because God is with me and in the middle of real life attitudes God is growing me up into a courageous, people-loving, faith-attitude big girl.
“The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.” Chuck Swindoll
May I accept those things I don’t understand, letting go of my need to change them. And, I ask this for each reader and friend. Together may we all learn to accept what is and trust you in the middle of each situation that is hard. Amen
Growing with you,