Acceptance. Things you can change, those you cannot, and the wisdom to know the difference. Scripture ties acceptance to gifts and therefore also to sacrifices. Time, effort, emotion, resources all go into these acceptable gifts. So to do time, effort, emotion and resources go into acceptance. Whether it be self-acceptance, circumstance-acceptance, or neighbor-acceptance, none of these happen without intention.
The heart of compassion is really acceptance. The better we are at accepting ourselves and others, the more compassionate we become. Well, it’s difficult to accept people when they are hurting us or taking advantage of us or walking all over us.
This research has taught me that if we really want to practice compassion, we have to start by setting boundaries and holding people accountable for their behavior. -GoI, B2
Perhaps acceptance is rooted in examination. Looking at our time, our talents, our resources with plenty of love, and an abundance of truthfulness. Accepting that our time is both abundant and limited, that our talents lie with some things and not others, accepting that we live in a time and place of unbelievable resources, but that we may utilize them unwisely. Unless we take the time to examine our feelings and naming our boundaries we cannot begin to be wise or healthy.
For most of my ministry career I have had ample time to focus on Advent and make the preparations needed to encourage congregations to practice it. This year was turned upside-down, and between congregational transition and new demands and duties, I had hardly the time. Furthermore, it being on the heels of Thanksgiving travel, I was even less prepared than usual. And the full realization of it didn’t land until Sunday morning. Jesus is coming, better look busy!
There were surprises in the bulletins and boxes left unfound. It was a imperfect advent of Advent; but it was good and holy and blessed. Learning to accept imperfect Sundays and other days isn’t something that will come easy. I have to live myself into the imperfections, discover that love and hope and truth still flow no matter the things that seem like errors. Advent continues, Christ will come. Furthermore, I find myself repenting of the years and years of judgy-ness of folks who didn’t seem to do much to plant lifelong formation in the practices of the church year. Compassion and forgiveness and acceptance are deeply bound to one another. Go Blue!