Surrender and Contentment Part 2: Learning Radical Acceptance

I wanted to share more of my journey to contentment and what that has looked like. Through this journey, I’ve been learning what we think we really want is usually not what we really deeply need. I thought I needed the perfect career in counseling and ministry to fill my sense of worth, value, and meaning. When that didn’t pan out, I thought I needed to be completely independent and prove myself to my family and friends. I put pressure on myself to be “okay” and “successful.” I put pressure on myself that only made me miserable and more anxious and depressed than ever. My grief turned into deep depression mixed with self-loathing and self-pity.

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A tool that helped me to overcome this constant fighting against my circumstances is called radical acceptance. It is a skill taught in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), a group therapy technique designed by Marsha Linehan to help people develop core skills in mindfulness, interpersonal relationships, emotional regulation, and managing a crisis. Radical acceptance is accepting reality as it is, no matter how difficult or unfair. It fits well with the saying we use when we can’t change something: “It is what it is.” When you are able to practice radical acceptance, you suffer less emotionally because you aren’t fighting against reality. It is quite healing and quite connected to the themes of surrender
and contentment in the Bible. In Job 2:10, Job says: “Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?”

At first, one might think radical acceptance is giving up and not trying. However, radical acceptance actually allows you to get to a place of surrender so your heart and mind are in a better place to move forward. When I accepted that my mental and physical health problems were preventing me from doing some of the things I intended to do, my emotional suffering actually decreased. My problems didn’t go away, and there are still many obstacles to tackle. However, radical acceptance got me to a much more peaceful place where I am able to enjoy the things in life that I am able to do, instead of grieving over the things I can’t do. Through that, I found out what I really need: intimacy, connection, relationship. I am more motivated than ever to grow and heal, but that motivation comes from a place of contentment instead of desperate striving to
make things better.

Has God pruned things out of your life to get your attention to what really matters? Is He
knocking on your heart to surrender things in your life that you just haven’t been able to change on your own? Is He calling you radically accept where you are at? He wants to give you a deep sense that you can trust Him with the pieces of your life. He is sovereign and trustworthy, and the pieces WILL come together, my friend. Take it slow, keep your eyes on Jesus, and watch Him put the pieces together. Trust me, it’s so much easier this way. Keep asking Him to help you let go and woo you into His presence. He will not deny His children who cry out to Him day and night. Be encouraged, and do not give up.

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