Daily Archives: March 19, 2008

Acceptance

In the last week or so I have been thinking a lot about the concept of acceptance, acceptance of reality and self-acceptance when it comes to living our lives. Earlier this week I was reminded how the chaplain I worked with last summer would spend a lot of time simply naming reality to patients in the hospital who were struggling to accept the terms of their illnesses. “But you have cancer,” he would softly repeat to a person whose head was swimming with treatments, remedies, and strategies for coping in life. And at first that seemed like such an abrupt, un-pastoral bedside demeanor. But as it turns out, that first crucial step, the ability and action of accepting the reality we are facing, is one that so many patients avoided.And in our pastoral counseling class this semester, we have noted how deep feelings of shame or anxiety still remain in control of one’s life even if one tries to suppress them. In fact, bringing these feelings to reality, to acknowledgment, and acceptance is actually a step toward healing.Today I read a chapter from a book that described these feelings of shame in psychologist Carl Jung‘s language as shadows of the self. Jung says that we are so afraid of these parts of the self, so convinced that they are evil and otherwordly, that we project them onto people in our lives rather than integrate them into our sense of self: in theologian Paul Tillich‘s language, face the nonbeing in order to fully be. This acceptance of reality, hence, becomes integral to self-acceptance, to seeing and loving ourselves as who we are. “This is your truth,” my chaplain last summer used to say. We have to accept the truth of our lives to truly be and respond as God is calling us to do so.

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