Virtue, as I already mentioned, is like a color wheel, and Wisdom is the presence of all virtue. Just as with color, there are virtues which are very similar, but have shades or hues that vary slightly.
For example, the virtue of Tolerance is linked to Acceptance. When it comes to the shading added by the notion of activity/passivity, Acceptance is an active virtue, Tolerance is conceptually a more passive virtue. Yes, they are very very close in meaning, the subtle difference requiring your geek glasses to see clearly.
Another virtue which can be linked to Acceptance is Contentment. The subtle difference would be that there is a tiny shade of Joy that mixes with Contentment, whereas Acceptance does not require Joy to exist.
The virtue of Acceptance is at the heart of the Ideal Life Exercise. Giving our active consent to our current circumstances and accepting where we are now as a starting place for any change.
Accepting our talents and natural propensities is a huge part of it: I personally believe that every good and perfect gift comes from God. Were I to try to hide or ignore what God built into me, I would be missing out on the potential for a full, satisfying excitement-filled life.
Case in point: many, many times I have written about how my love of clothes was a shame to me for much of my adult life. My love of pretty things felt icky to me. I felt like caring about what I wore was shallow and unworthy. It was infantile: I had been obsessing about having just the right dose of lace on a swimming suit since I was a toddler.
This was so much a part of me that I couldn’t remember a time in my life that I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to wear and how I wanted to wear it. What if I was born this way? What if this wasn’t a design flaw, but a feature?
When I was willing to accept this version of myself, I was able to stop feeling the shame I had always associated with how much I loved clothes. And, what’s more, after some time, God used that love of clothes to help guide me through my self-loathing and abusive relationship with myself by challenging me to buy no clothes this year.
The virtue of Acceptance is the very first step to a rich, challenging, exciting life.
Pursuing the virtue of Acceptance happens on the macro and micro levels. There is a once-and-for-all “I choose to live this life I currently have” come-to-Jesus moment, and then, every single day, there are tiny little “I choose to accept these circumstances and seek wisdom to deal with them” moments.
The first, critical step is to accept where we are now. I do this once a year by listing out all the roles I play in my life, by looking at where I am now and what I do there, where I was in the year that just passed. Although I do this on New Years Day every year, nothing stops you from doing it on your birthday or some other memorable day. But importantly, do it now. Today. This is your starting pace.
Where are you today? What are your natural propensities (both good and bad!)? What is your attitude about where you are today?
Give your consent. Not a fatalist’s acceptance. A lucid, informed, enthusiastic consent. “This is where I am, these are my circumstances.” Nothing stops us from tagging on, …”but I don’t have to stay here.”
If you had to rate yourself on the virtue of Acceptance, on a scale from 0-10, where would you land?