The Miraculous Grace of Acceptance

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The Miraculous Grace of Acceptance

  You’ve met them, the parents who have “given up” on their child, the dad who has lost all hope, the mom who acquiesced to her grief long ago. Their faces haunt you. These are the parents who used to frighten us the most. We did not want to become like them. The way we figured it, we were desperate, but at least we had not given up.   And yet there were times, for us, when the “always” of mental illness made giving up seem like our only option. Either that, or die of despair. It didn’t happen overnight, and we admit there were times when we flirted with throwing in the towel and joining those parents we never wanted to become, but we finally discovered a third option. A healthy alternative to blind resignation that, believe it or not, brought us relief: Acceptance.   Resignation and acceptance may look alike, but they are not the same thing.   Resignation says there is no good in this. Period. Acceptance admits that this is not good, but there is good in it. Resignation says there is nothing I can do to control my child’s mental illness. Acceptance says I cannot control this, but I can control me. Resignation believes nothing will help. Acceptance takes a risk and asks for help. Resignation is an emotional vacuum chamber. Acceptance makes room for the full gamut of feelings from loss to love, from grief to grace. Resignation rubs a callous in the place where our child hurt us. Acceptance knows the gamble of compassion but takes it anyway.   And maybe this is where we can stop: with compassion. We’ve learned that when we accept our child’s mental illness, we find grace to comfort him or her in it. Acceptance has unencumbered our heavy hearts in a way resignation never could. We’re still for you is the message our child hears loud and clear. No, our heads are not in the sand, and we’re not straining at the horizon, looking for a dramatic miracle of healing, but we have not given up on you. We’re still in the game. Staying in the game reminds us of one last truth:   Resignation believes God has forgotten us. Acceptance knows he is still here, not just for our kids, but for us.   Acceptance, it turns out, is the dramatic miracle of healing that continues to happen in us.  This miracle is firmly planted in the present tense, always happening in real time. And, as all miracles are, it is never our doing.  In fact, we propose that the ability to accept our child’s mental illness would have eluded us altogether had we not experienced the Presence of God every step of this long, tough journey. In our first post we wrote about finding grace in the wilderness. This is grace, to know and experience Him fully.   If we look at the story of God’s people on their way from Egypt to the Promised Land, a wilderness is defined as a decades-long, arduous journey through dry, desert land. We can relate to that. The reason we can put one foot in front of the other on this wilderness trek, accepting whatever lies in our path, is only because He is here with us. He never gives up on us:   In Your incomprehensible compassion, You did not abandon them in the wilderness. The pillar of cloud didn’t evaporate; day by day it guided them. The pillar of fire was not extinguished; night by night it led them along the right paths. ~ Nehemiah 9:19, The Voice    

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