I have a cat that likes to poop on our basement carpet. Yes, Bubbles, I'm talking about you! When I walk down there and find his little surprises waiting for me, it usually puts me into a foul mood. I curse Bubbles for doing this yet again! But I'm trying to start a different approach. Acceptance. If I can recognize in the moment that the thing that is disturbing me has already happened, then I can accept it. I don't have to like it. I can still work to try to address the problem so that it doesn't continue. But once it has happened, I will feel much better if I can practice acceptance.
This is what the Bible teaches in Romans 15:5-7: "May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God."
This teaching of Scripture is mainly focused on accepting other people. Most often it is other people who are doing things that we don't like (Sometimes it is other cats!). Things that makes us uncomfortable or don't align with our preferences. We are challenged here to accept those people anyway. I think we could challenge our assumptions as well. When someone does something we don't like, our first reaction is usually, "They did that on purpose just to bother me!" Now ask yourself how likely that is to be true. Not very.
We are better off to approach others with curiosity. Assume that you don't know their motivation. Accept the situation for what it is. Accept the person who is bothering you. And from that place of acceptance, you can take action. This is true for any situation that bothers you. Start with acceptance and then you will see clearly what to do next. Often many situations can be solved simply by looking at the issue differently.
Let's take a common example. The slow driver. I think I run into someone about once a week who is doing 25 mph on Briggs Chaney Road. The speed limit is 35 mph and most people are usually going 45 mph. So it feels like a snail's pace when I get behind a slow driver. If I'm not paying attention, my first reaction can be pretty negative. But if I approach the situation with acceptance, I can relax. I can tell myself, "This is an opportunity for me to slow down and pray. I can actually thank God for the slow driver in front of me. And there is nothing else to do.
Notice that in this example, I did nothing to try to change the slow driver. I didn't honk. I didn't pull up six inches away from their bumper. I changed my perspective. I accepted the situation. I made the best of it. And guess what, whenever I do this I always feel 100 times better. This basic approach can work in any situation that you face. In some of those, there may be one more step. You may want to have a conversation with someone where you request that they do something differently. I promise you that conversation will go so much better when they can feel your genuine acceptance.
I would invite you this week to accept whatever bothers you. Start there. Then trust God to lead you in wisdom as to what to do next.
May you enjoy the peace of acceptance this week.