Can You Let Go of How You Want Life to Be, and Accept Life as It Is?

The Questions I Ask Myself

The title of my own post makes me uncomfortable:

Can You Let Go of How You Want Life to Be, and Accept It as It Is?

For me, it begs the questions:

  • If you accept life as it is, are you implying that everything is fine as it is?
  • If you accept life as it is, are you giving up on changing bad situations into good situations?
  • If you accept life as it is, are you admitting that nothing can improve?

If there are things I don’t like about life (and there are things I don’t like, such as, mass shootings, religious infighting, racial inequity, relationship conflicts, debilitating illnesses, on and on…), isn’t it counterproductive to “accept” them?

Photo: Accept Life as It Is

The Answers I’m Finding

No. Acceptance is not counterproductive.

In my year of Release, I’m learning more and more that I need to let go of my discontent that life isn’t fully how I want it to be right now.

I need to stop fighting against accepting things as they are.

I can never make things better if I’m not first willing to accept them as they are. Even if I don’t like them.

  • Before we can apologize, we must accept we’re wrong.
  • Before we can heal, we must acknowledge the wound.
  • Before we can grow, we must recognize we’re stunted.

Trying to change the future before we understand the present doesn’t work well.

And we often get too far ahead of ourselves in our rush for improvement. When our thoughts drift too far into the future, we’re wise to acknowledge them, notice them, but then return again to the present moment. Without avoidance. Without suppression. Without denial.

Facing reality is the necessary first step. This is what acceptance is. This is the foundation. Until we know where we are, where we’re starting, as accurately as our minds can allow, we can’t map out proper directions to get where we want to end up.

And then, based on this knowledge, we can more clearly pursue God’s wisdom and more accurately understand God’s guidance to set goals and take action:

  • to restore relationships,
  • to make the world safer for everybody, and
  • ultimately to grow into more loving human beings.

It still won’t be easy. And it might not even be successful, especially if it involves other people and things out of our control.

But it’s a path worth pursuing.

Face it first. Move forward second.


How do you handle facing reality? Share your thoughts in the comments

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20 thoughts on “Can You Let Go of How You Want Life to Be, and Accept Life as It Is?

  1. Susan Nowell @ My Place to Yours

    Your post title makes me uncomfortable, too, Lisa. The minute I read it, in fact, my mind began hopping from one dark path to another; times in my life when I struggled to accept a current reality. Things out of my control (I LIKE control!), things influenced by evil (I HATE evil), things that broke my heart (and who wants a broken heart?).

    I’ve learned there’s a big difference in RELEASING something into God’s more-than-capable, always faithful, hands and “simply” being RESIGNED to an unwelcome reality. When I’m resigned, I tend to look and act more like the beloved Eeyore of Winnie the Pooh fame—but his look isn’t very good on me. In fact, I’m not very beloved when in Eeyore character. But releasing? That’s another look altogether. I’m calmer, more trusting, and my spirit is more at peace. Of course, releasing is a choice—and one I’ve had to make multiples times a day (or an hour, if truth be told), but over time it can become a good habit. So yes, we can accept “life as it is” even when we don’t like our circumstances. We can accept the things we can’t change (at least in the current moment), and choose to believe that God is working in the heavenlies to bring about the changes for good that we desire. In the meantime, I try to pray that my eyes, ears, and heart will be open and attuned to whatever He wants me to see/hear/do/know to encourage those around me TODAY. I am always a better person when I’m looking upward and outward than when I’m hanging my head.

    Prayers lifting this morning for the hard situations that come to your mind when you ask yourself the title question. Lift that chin (and those prayers!), and open your hands in release. Deep breath… You and God have got this!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      What a beautiful explanation of this, Susan! Thank you so much for your insightful words as well as for your personal encouragement to me. You really touched my heart this morning. Much needed and appreciated, friend.

  2. Lynn Severance

    Your posting today, Lisa, reminds me of a study I just began based on Ann Voskamp’s latest book, “Waymaker” which is wonderful. 4,000 people are doing her study on it via a Facebook Portal (6 videos – one a week – or at one’s own pace).

    She’s looking (thus we are) at letting go of life the way we had expected it to be and focusing on walking in the way, with the Way knowing He is leading – using 6 key points coming from the acronym S.A.C.R.E.D. It is her most vulnerable book and it also is about release and acceptance and moving on. Our lives may not look like all we had hoped but that does not mean they are not ‘all God knew He wanted’ and with Him we get His perspective. I can’t say enough good about the book and am excited entering in to the study (free online) and well crafted!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I didn’t know about any of this, Lynn! Thanks for sharing the info here. I’ll go look up Waymaker. And the groups too. It sounds ideal for my year of RELEASE.

  3. Lynn

    Like the other “Lynn” I started Waymaker but through email instead of facebook group. 🙂 Exodus 10:14 shows how to be still and then in the following verse how to obey and move! I know I am praying for a change in a current situation, and to not fall into despair. Accepting the current situation and that God’s got our best in mind is not easy! but is the way to a contented (released) heart, mind, and soul. We can do this with God!

  4. Maryleigh

    This is so true – and even in our relationship with God, we have to face the reality of how we feel about our hurts, our challenges, the places we are broken and how we feel about that. It’s only when we’re honest with Him about how we feel about things that change comes – when we face how we feel about our reality, God then can work with us to move and change into His reality. You’ve given us a thought-provoking message today (but, then, you always do!).

  5. Linda Stoll

    Lisa, this is so powerful. It is what it is. As we accept the truth, we’re able to take the next step, which is, ‘now what?’

    Or even better than that, ‘what are You inviting me to, Lord?’

    You’re so right, the questions are harder than they look …

  6. Jean Wise

    wow your title struck me too. I wanted to run lol but found lots of wisdom to ponder here today. I think part of the issue is not willing to accept the reality we are not in control of so many things. I hearing that internally more and more and then I can reframe and accept all as gift,

  7. David

    This is so true — facing and accepting reality is the first step to understanding, and to being a part of reality’s improvement. And it is so difficult to accept at times — the state of the world, local relationships, the state of myself even. Difficult to face let alone accept.

    The alternative is ultimately worse though: refusing to accept means turning away from the possibility of understanding, which is only going to take us downhill.

    Facing (thank you btw 😉 and accepting might also mean finding and accepting our Lord’s part in the situation. I recall the exchange in John 9:2-3:

    2 … His disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” 3 Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the works of God would be displayed in him. …”

  8. Lois Flowers

    Lisa, as I read this, I realized that there’s a difference between contentment and complacency. In my mind, the latter implies a lack of care and concern, while the former indicates acceptance without negating the possibility of or need for future change. I also appreciate the idea that acceptance is facing reality and moving forward from there, rather than avoiding or denying it. Thought-provoking post, my friend.

  9. Trudy

    This is such a powerful post, Lisa. Thank you. Facing the reality of a situation and also facing the reality that there are some things we can’t change no matter how much we try can be so hard. May God give us grace to be content leaving things in His hands and to move forward one step at a time with His guidance! Love and blessings of strength and peace to you!

  10. Michele Morin

    What I am hearing is a call to live in the present moment with full realization that I do not control the future. This seems to be a year for us all to embrace hope without Pollyanna-ish denial of the brutal facts.

  11. ~ linda

    When I am in doubt, in fear, in unknown territory, in uncomfortable circumstances, my initial response is to RUN! Turning to face the way things are has always been tough for me, although I have stayed put and faced the music. I was to be able to release the NOW to God, knowing He has me in HIs arms, in His hands. Thank you for giving me some food on which to stand still.

  12. Donna B Reidland

    Trusting God and His timing is so needful if we are to live contented lives, isn’t it? I appreciate the thoughts shared here. We can be pressing forward yet peaceful and contented with where we are at the moment.

  13. Lory @ Entering the Enchanted Castle

    Wow, Lisa, this post basically encapsulates what my entire life has been about. Especially this: “we often get too far ahead of ourselves in our rush for improvement.” Guilty as charged! I spent too many decades doing this, then concluding that my failure meant that I was a failure, it was impossible, etc. But I have learned that that is not true. My focus now is on quelling my instinct to run away, deny, deflect, cover up, etc. as soon as I sense something is wrong, and instead spend time actually understanding what is wrong before trying to change it. If I don’t do that, then I find I am likely to produce opposite but equally harmful results, and/or just repeat or perpetuate the thing I have not really penetrated with understanding. So I will keep telling myself to “face it first, move forward second” — thank you for that pithy reminder!

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