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Acceptance key to achieving dreams - Being comfortable with oneself is starting place.

April 4, 2014

By Michael C. Blackwell, President/CEO

Prominent Swiss physician and psychiatrist Paul Tournier gives great insight on how accepting oneself can spell the difference between a victorious life and one lived in shallow misery. In The Meaning of Persons, he tells a story of two patients who lacked healthy self esteem.

The first was a highly successful politician whose appeal and charisma had carried him to a string of victories at the ballot box. Though outwardly full of charm and confidence, his private actions revealed a much different nature. He confessed feeling so timid that his hands shook violently whenever he shared a cup of tea with a small group of friends.

The second patient was a forty-year-old man who felt so insecure that his mother accompanied him to Tournier’s office. Nervous and fidgety, he sat on the edge of his chair throughout their initial interview. However, over time, doctor and patient developed a basic trust. To his surprise, Dr. Tournier discovered the soul of an adventurer. Though the man dreamed of heroism, daring deeds, and voyages to distant lands, he was ineffectual. Because he had not accepted himself and embraced the idea of taking action to realize those dreams, he remained tied to his mother by an invisible cord.

Unlike these individuals, feeling good about oneself begins by understanding that all people, because they are created in God’s image, are worthy to be accepted – by themselves and by others. Accepting self means we not only reach for positive self esteem for ourselves, but we also help others to achieve acceptance of themselves. We do this not by writing a best-selling book, becoming a famed motivational speaker, or selling a million videos on the successful life. No, we inspire others to accept themselves simply by seeing them as people of significance and value. Life runs at its best when people treat others with honor and respect. Poor relationships with others injure both parties’ feelings. It dims all hopes of success in businesses, friendships, cooperative ventures, and families.The one who treats people poorly suffers in other ways. A man or woman constantly at odds with others reaps a harvest of loneliness, or at best a grudging acceptance by others. The pain may simply be felt inside, with the individual ill at ease with self. By hurting others, such people hurt themselves. Do other people speak unkindly, make dumb moves, and fail in their endeavors? Sure. But so do you.

Accepting yourself or having a positive self esteem means making allowances for shortcomings, just as others make allowances for ours.

To complete this picture of acceptance, I offer the word comfort. Learning to accept yourself is grounded in your ability to be comfortable with your body, your spirit and with other people.

Be comfortable with your body. Do you find yourself frequently wishing your body were a different type, size, shape, or color? To be at peace with your body requires a faith-full acceptance of your body type. Most people cannot be supremely shapely or muscular. Yet, most of us can develop the awareness that the body is not something to fight but to accept and value. Because of its intricate nature and creation, it is a thing of beauty. Comfort involves acceptance.

Be comfortable with your spirit. Many dwell on lack of fulfillment in their lives, on certain weaknesses, sins or faults. That is self-defeating behavior. You will never know the joy God intended for you to have if you stay mired in the quicksand of negative, defeatist thinking. Sure, periodically we all struggle with fears and anxieties, but we must remember that God designed each of us with particular gifts and a plan for us to use those gifts to fulfill His purposes in the world. While complete fulfillment is a lifelong quest, we can take comfort in knowing that we are not alone in our journey. The One who was with us in the beginning will be with us to the end.

Be comfortable with others. This is the fruit of the previous pair of comforts. The person at comfort with his or her body and spirit has no compulsion to lash out at others. Those who are comfortable with their body and spirit no longer need to project their discomfort onto the world or onto others. They no longer need to hate, discriminate or hurt others.

Positive Self Esteem = Acceptance = Comfort.

There is a right way to order our lives so that we are not constantly tangled and adrift but moving forward with purpose. The level of comfort we feel about ourselves plays a huge part in how we make our way in this world. It is important to remember that we are not totally mature until we can accept ourselves and know the comfort that comes from realizing we have been created intentionally for God’s glory.

Michael C. Blackwell leads the Baptist Children's Homes ministry with vigor and enthusiasm. He has served as president since 1983 and has a record-setting 30-year tenure.