With realizations comes understanding. It’s this understanding that allows us to see things in a different light. “If someone or something is seen or shown in a particular light, people can see that particular part of their character in a new light” (Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English). But realizations (and the understanding that comes with them) must be accepted in order to bring change.
That word, “acceptance,” has two basic directions in its definition. There’s the direction of accepting something or someone, and also the other direction of being accepted by someone.
It occurs to me this is often where our struggles land. We see something new, but struggle to accept it – whether that be with someone else or with ourselves. What happens inside us at that point?
For me, it’s often easy to get lost in the “should’s.” Those voices and prompts inside that lead toward pressure to change or guilt over not changing thoroughly. That territory is a mire, bogging us down. If we could picture that muddy territory, feet heavy with muck, where would the Lord be? Close by? Far away? What about his posture? Would he be waiting for an opportunity to help? Creating those opportunities? Hand extended? What about his mood? Would he be exasperated? Disappointed? Tenderly scolding? Good-hearted?
But what happens when a new light comes and we handle the struggle to accept it with curiosity and exploration? What is that like? Where is God in that picture? His posture? His mood?
To me, it is reassuring that no matter which way we move, God can be found. Even when our image of him isn’t accurate at all, he welcomes our honest expression of what we see.
Recently I was sitting with a woman who said, “I know the mind games in my head aren’t right and I know my image of God isn’t good either, but I don’t know what to do with it. So I am sitting, trying to be open, waiting.” How tempting it is at this point to believe that we must go find God. That he is perhaps upset because we are unable to see him, or effect the changes needed. And yet, this flies in the face of the truth that God is in charge of our growth – not us. “For it is God who works in us both to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13 NIV). We would change the “out of whack” things so much faster than he does. But he does not need us to be cleaned up in order to love us thoroughly and soundly or to accomplish his purposes concerning us. “Faithful is he who calls you who also will do it” (2 Thessalonians 5:24 NIV).
So we can relax. There’s room to get curious, to explore, to see what’s what. There’s space to struggle to accept a new light. Knowing that all the while, we are moving in the good gaze, the tender regard of our God.
I wonder where you are today?