Recently, I attended a training on self-esteem and self-acceptance issues by Vjosa Rizaj. It was good to find that there are others who agree that these are very important issues in our personal life and in the therapist’s work with clients. However, my focus in the next few paragraphs is on importance of self-acceptance. From this recently attended workshop, I learned that healthy self-acceptance leads to healthy self-esteem. I strongly agree with this which is why I choose to focus on self-acceptance in this writing. In my opinion, even more important is choosing to believe in God’s acceptance of us as self-acceptance can be a long process, especially if trauma has been experienced.
During my undergraduate studies, I stumbled upon an opportunity to join a renown men’s choir which was preparing to take a tour to Australia and New Zealand. I had little knowledge of New Zealand, but since my early childhood, I was fascinated by the Australian culture: the ascent, environment which I caught a glimpse of from Captain Kangaroo. It was a place I wanted to visit someday once I became able to afford it. New Zealand turned out to be a very pleasant bonus to the experience. Normally, I would have passed up an invitation to join a choir, even one that was headed to Australia. Not only was I aware that I was not a singer, but I also knew going on such a trip would not be free. But that day I had a holy boldness and submitted to the recruiter’s persistent plead for me to sign up.
Being an introvert and not a talented singer was something I had to accept during this new experience. I also realized that I lacked another important attribute that would have been nice to have in order to make this work. It was knowing a lot of people who would donate to the cause. I had to raise over $2000.00 to go on this trip, which to me was a lot of money, and a lot to ask of others. It seemed as though I had set myself up for failure and disappointment. Yet, I had been accepted into the choir without the great talent I thought I needed, so a thought came to me, if I have a connection with God and His acceptance of me, then He could connect me to others who would be willing to help with the financial cost. It turns out, He did just that. I was the second person to raise the money required for the trip, second only to a member who reportedly received his support from family members.
This experience has remained with me as a lesson in the importance of self-acceptance. We all have strengths and weaknesses that we must learn to accept about ourselves. Our attributes make us neither greater nor lesser than others. Only God is perfect. We may have limits of what we can experience in this life, but even so, we should continue to strive to embrace how God has made us.
Self-acceptance does not happen instantly, but it is a process that varies for each person who pursues it. My wife gave me a word of Wisdom by an unknown author years ago. The title is God Likes the way He Made You and it states: Sometimes the things that we think are our worst faults, God will use to His greatest glory. “But who are you, a mere man, to contradict and answer back to God? Will what is formed say to him that formed it, Why have you made me thus?” (Romans 9:20)… You are not going to enjoy your life if you don’t enjoy yourself. Be satisfied with yourself and celebrate the unique way God made you.
These are powerful words for those of us who struggle with self-acceptance. However, as stated earlier, self-acceptance can be a longer process for those who have experienced trauma or severe abuse. In such case, connecting or reconnecting with the one who made us is the way to healing and fulfillment. He is able to connect us to those who will help identify and restore our value.