Accepting One Another

God grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know it’s me!

Earlier this year, I read Max Lucado’s book, How Happiness Happens, with a group of women at my new church. I bought the study guide that goes with the video study though we didn’t watch it. I found some thought provoking questions in the study guide: Whom would you consider your “opposite you”? How do you typically interact with this person?

Bear with one another in love

If you’ve ever struggled to deal with someone who is your opposite, you know how difficult it is to accept the differences. I consider my boss my opposite me. I’m an introvert; he’s an extrovert. I prefer to communicate by email; he prefers to talk on the phone. I’m responsive to emails; he ignores them. I get things done timely, even early; he procrastinates and does things at the last minute. I could go on and on about how his opposite of me ways get on my nerves.

I am outwardly patient with the opposite me but it has been a struggle. I accept that I can’t change him; I’ve tried. I have no choice but to bear with him. I resent him for not being a person I can depend on. And yet, I can also tell you that he is a friendly, lighthearted, and positive person. He shows his appreciation and is contrite when he lets me down.

It is easy for me to focus on character flaws and personality differences and to ignore strengths and positive attributes. Lucado devoted a chapter of How Happiness Happens to pet peeves. When we focus too much on pet peeves, we’re the ones who suffer. Our reaction to these annoyances robs us of our joy. It is not enough to bear with each other. We must do so in complete humility and love.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Ephesians 4:2

Speak the truth in love

How do you deal with the person with which you fundamentally disagree?

It is often best to keep your mouth shut when you disagree. Choose your battles. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Having said that, there have been times I’ve wished that I had spoken up when someone in my church small group said something fundamentally inconsistent with the teachings of Jesus.

Jesus did not hesitate to call out religious people who “neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness” (Matthew 23:23). Jesus did not hesitate to say something to those who “shut the door of the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces” (Matthew 23:13). He was full of both grace and truth (John 1:14). When we speak the truth in love, we help others to grow.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ.

Ephesians 4:15

Accept one another, as Christ accepted you

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.

Romans 15:5-7

What does it mean to accept one another as Christ accepted you? Christ accepts us just as we are, sinful and imperfect. Just as he saw the potential in sinners and in his own imperfect disciples, he sees the potential in every one of us. His love is not conditional.

What’s the difference between accepting someone and tolerating someone?

To me, the word tolerate has negative connotations. It means enduring or putting up with someone or something unpleasant or disliked. No one wants to endure someone or something unpleasant. It takes effort. Tolerating another person often comes with a grudging or resentful attitude.

In contrast, the word accept is positive. Acceptance is consenting to receive or to take something to oneself. To accept is to welcome. To accept another person is to treat them as if they matter.

Think about what it feels like to not be accepted. It feels like rejection. It feels like being excluded. It feels like you don’t matter to the person who won’t accept you unconditionally.

We often refuse to accept another person as they are, without judgment, because we think they should change – to be more like us. But none of us is perfect. God doesn’t ask us to fix other people. We are called to accept them as they are and to entrust them to the Redeemer, to the One who can change them.

What does it mean to have the same attitude of mind that Jesus had? Christ Jesus, even though he is one with God, humbled himself and served others.

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:5-8

Lord, thank you for accepting me and loving me just as I am, flawed and in need of redemption. I confess that I have not always accepted others as You accepted me. Humble me and help me to have the same attitude of mind toward others that You have. Help me to stop worrying about a speck of dust in another’s eye while ignoring a log in my own. Give me the wisdom to see the ways I let You down. Help me to see and appreciate the potential in others and to bear with them in love. Help me to be more like You. Amen.

The Power of Perspective

This is a post I wrote at the beginning of 2016 on Blogger. Perspective is truly powerful. I find that I often have to change my perspective when things do not work out the way I hope they will. And sometimes, I have to dig deep and find the courage to change the things I can.


Last year I struggled with job dissatisfaction. I found myself see-sawing between hope and despair, complacency and desperation. The year began with anxiety about upcoming layoffs and the reorganization of our department. My boss and a few other people were laid off. Within months several other people resigned and we struggled to fill the voids. I also struggled to adapt to new management styles. My department was reorganized a second time at the end of the year and I was assigned to a new manager – my third within a one-year period.

Towards the end of the year, my pastor encouraged me with a sermon about Jesus being with us in the storms of life. He asked the congregation to share our prayer requests. I am not comfortable speaking in public so I kept my struggles to myself. But in listening to the concerns that were shared that day, it put my own struggle in perspective. Being unhappy with a job pales in comparison to worries about cancer or the illness of a child.

After the year-end reorganization, I was offered another position in our department. Again, my perspective changed. I felt hopeful. Even though not much has changed, I decided to see this as a fresh beginning.

Perspective is powerful. If you change your perspective, you can completely change your attitude. Here are just a few quotes on perspective that I found on Google Images:

  • What you see depends not only on what you look at, but also on where you look from.
  • If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. – Dr. Wayne Dyer
  • Perspective is the way we see things when we look at them from a certain distance and it allows us to appreciate their true value. – Rafael E. Pino
  • Some see a weed, some see a wish.
  • A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; An optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty. – Winston Churchill
  • We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses. – Abraham Lincoln
  • When life gets blurry, adjust your focus.
  • Life is like a camera – focus on what’s important, capture the good times, develop from the negative and if things don’t work out, take another shot!

Perspective is often thought of as a choice between optimism and pessimism. I think of the image of a glass half filled with water with the message: Optimists see a glass that is half full. Pessimists see a glass that is half empty. Pessimists see a weed; optimists see a wish. Pessimists see the thorns; optimists see the roses. Pessimists see the difficulty; optimists see the opportunity.

Although I see the wisdom in choosing an optimistic attitude, I have to admit that I am not naturally an optimist. I would like to be optimistic but my natural inclination is to worry about what can go wrong. It is not that I always expect things to go wrong, but I am realistic. Things do go wrong. There are thorns. There are obstacles. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected.

Perspective is not just an attitude; it is a point of view, a way of looking at life. That point of view is influenced by our personalities. According to David Keirsey, author of Please Understand Me II, people with my temperament, Guardians, are the pessimists. My type tends to be “fatalistic” in looking back, believing that “pain and suffering are unavoidable.” Guardians are also more likely to think that events are part of a divine plan. On a day to day basis, we are stoical, enduring pain and hardship without complaining or showing emotion.

It is humbling to see my personality type described in such dark terms. Galen, a Roman physician, thought that the balance of the four humors or bodily fluids determined behavior. No doubt, I would have been deemed “melancholic” – prudent, cautious, realistic.

Given my natural tendencies, in my search for the right perspective, a more positive perspective, I have to make a conscious decision to reframe my point of view. I have to intentionally adjust my focus when life gets blurry, as it did for me last year. I have to focus on what is important, develop from the negatives and take another shot!

As I look around me, I see so much to be grateful for – my faith, my health, friends and family, and even my job. I see that other people are struggling with issues that are much more challenging. My heart goes out to them. I am learning to see the world with grace-filled eyes.

As I look behind me, I see the lesson learned from my struggle. From a certain distance, I see that I let myself become bitter about the corporate layoffs, so much so that it colored my outlook for the future in a bad way. I was more irritable and less kind. Things weren’t the way I wanted them to be so I made a mountain out of a molehill. It is time to let it go. It’s time to focus on what’s important.

As I look ahead, I don’t expect to see nothing but roses. I expect that there will be thorns. I do not find strength and inspiration in imagining a glass that is half full. Instead, I think about the lessons I’ve learned in running. Don’t think about how far you have to go. Run as far as that tree up ahead. Then focus on the next tree. If you need to take a break and walk awhile, that’s okay. Every step gets you closer to your goal.

I envision the steps of the Challenge Hill at Philip S. Miller Park in Castle Rock, CO – two hundred steps that climb 178 feet in elevation. From the bottom, the hill looks steep. But if you see the stairs as individual steps and keep your eyes on the steps in front of you, the challenge is not so daunting. Step, breathe, exhale. Step, breathe, exhale (gasp). 50, 100, 150, 200. You did it! And the view is much better from the top.