Sundays are Spirituality day here at Taking it to the Streets
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake.” – Bill Wilson
I needed this reminder this week as I faced a Kafka-esque nightmare with the IRS whilst attempting to fulfill my duties as executor of my friend’s will. I was amazed at how quickly I went from mostly serene to raging lunatic. More humbled by how long my ill-temper lasted (days, not hours, alas!).
And if ever there were an immovable object, it’s the IRS! So, I guess, in that way they are the perfect spiritual teacher – providing opportunities to practice acceptance, compassion (these people truly WOULD be unemployable anywhere that required independent thinking and some modicum of intelligence) and lack of judgementalism (oops!).
If I stayed in the land of brain and ego I became more enraged – for truly the situation was beyond absurd. Easy to feel self-righteous, unduly wronged and vindictive. But since they will win, no matter how wrong they are, this stance on my part was not particularly helpful. And as the IRS lady directly told me “we don’t care – we are the IRS” – so it wasn’t hurting them, my self-righteous anger.
The Swiss Army knife in my messenger bag that they confiscated and the four hours of lost time are truly goners. But my serenity did not have to be.
So as I reviewed the situation I realized that it was my ego – my drive to be right, my desire to “save the day” and help my deceased friend, spare her partner from more tasks with this odious chore – those parts of me that wanted to be both right and heroic were in the way of the part of me that is essentially good, centered, close to God, and love (aka spiritual).
Normally, Dr. Diane’s prescription for such maladies might be more prayer and meditation or gathering with like-minded souls. But Thursday night after this little run-in with the IRS and the mighty wheels of frustration and rage, I picked up Tara Brach’s great book “Radical Acceptance” and began to reread it. Only maybe 40 pages into rereading it, I already feel better, as I am reminding myself to not only accept the seemingly unacceptable situation, but also needing to accept my own human-ness. No, I don’t like being an enraged, flailing infant-like creature, raging against the machine. No, I don’t like feeling so vulnerable and powerless. Or wronged. Or babyish. Yes, I want to save the day. To be right. To have it be easy (especially that – I love it being easy).
But it wasn’t easy. I was ‘wronged’. I acted very very imperfectly. And it’s all what it is.
As Marianne Williamson said “forgive yourself, and get back to work.”
So I will trust that God has some plan. And that part of the plan for me has ALWAYS been about learning how to handle frustration with a bit more grace and aplomb. I’m hopeful that if I keep practicing and getting better the opportunities to learn that lesson will, well, LESSEN.
How about you? What’s your take on acceptance? Valuable spiritual tool or akin to resignation?