The last year has taught us many lessons. Perhaps the greatest for me is acceptance. We can’t control what happens to us. But we can control how we respond.
Acceptance of your current reality is the essence of the Stockdale Paradox, a concept which gave Jim Stockdale the courage to keep fighting during years as a prisoner of war in Hanoi.
Acceptance is when you can look back and say, hey, I may not be OK with the fact that that happened, and I may not ever be, but there are new things in my mind and heart. New things to take my energy and attention. Things that actually deserve it. Things that don’t force me into having to accept anything I don’t want to or move on. Acceptance is tomorrow. Even if the pain is still there, you realize it may always be, and somehow, that’s OK.
As an author who recently tried my hand at fiction, I’ve discovered that my readers love it when I put a flawed protagonist into an untenable situation, where the scabs are ripped bare. She is forced to deal with her current situation and find the faith to believe that she can still prevail. My protagonist, Jessica Ramirez, feels responsibility for her father’s murder. Her obsession with righting that wrong gets her into a lot of trouble. Even when she exacts revenge, it doesn’t bring her peace. She’s still learning about acceptance. I am, too.
Rob’s advice that “acceptance is tomorrow” is wise. Tomorrow is where the action is; a new chapter we can write where the hero takes steps in the direction of new beginnings and discovers new ways to chase purpose and passion.
Acceptance of what was and what is may be uncomfortable. But ours is a lifelong adventure story that is constantly being told. We can’t create a meaningful next chapter without it.