Acceptance Acceptance, The last stage of grief or the beginning of the true journey? I've had the urge to write this blog for some time, but I keep finding myself putting it off. I know it will take some effort and may not flow as easily as some of the earlier ones. This process started for me when I heard a well-known quote from the famous philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard: "Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forward." I have a cousin that is an avid skier and spends half the year living the dream in a resort town in Colorado. We have a lot in common in many good (and some not so good) ways. While she is adventurous and a loving mentor to me, she can also be obsessively driven and hypercompetitive. I love to ski, but seeing as I spend most of my year near sea level, I only get to do it a handful of days in a season. Years ago, she played into our kindred spirit when she confronted me with the declaration she was tired of having to dumb down her skiing when I visited; we were going to the extreme slopes. We have skied together for years, and she knew I could safely handle what she was proposing. I, on the other hand, wasn't so sure and was comfortable in my usual routine. As she forced me towards the lift to "no man's land" she yelled back through a laugh, "Do you really want to go home a wimp?" As I followed her down the run, I quickly learned the skill of finding simpler lines when the conditions started to feel overwhelming. The trick was to focus on the terrain I knew I could handle and block out the hazards that seemed too dangerous. Fear lost its grip and exhilaration took its place. Looking back, I see how that experience changed my perspective on skiing forever. You see those slopes, the ones labeled "out of bounds" or "extreme". . . the ones only accessible by small lifts or Cats, offer views and experiences that feel worlds away from the commercial bustle below. Skiing became a true escape into the wilderness, not just an activity. It was a liberating step, and I needed a push to get there. In many ways my journey through recovery seems to parallel this experience. It has been a long one. I've lost count of the books and hours of counseling. Weekly group calls now seem as natural as showing up at my office each weekday morning. However, it also feels like it has just begun. The process has transformed me individually in ways I longed for far before the discovery of my wife's infidelity. I find myself with a new self-awareness, a better understanding of God's purpose, a greater appreciation for healthy relationships. The taste of authenticity and the calm confidence of true purpose is sweet. For the first time, I find myself truly contemplating with wonder. . . dare I say excitement. . . what could be up ahead? This point feels like a transition. This point feels like. . . acceptance. While I acknowledge that recovery from the dysfunctions, pains, and transgressions of this world is a life long journey, I now realize that grieving my wife's indiscretions is not. At times, I have tried to push to get to this point, only to find it slipping further away. Grieving is an ambiguous process that has to take its own time and form. I see that now. Only when I immersed myself in the process completely, quit trying to control it, and applied the principals learned through all the hours of study and counseling with patience and without expectation, did this clarity emerge. My acceptance is not of what was negatively done to me by another, but the condition and state of my own life. My acceptance is realizing that I am not above having to face this indiscretion, and that I can grow from how I choose to experience it. My acceptance is a new found understanding of my own strengths, and how better to protect them from my own dysfunctions and unhealthy ways. My acceptance is in the fallen world we live in, and understanding my place in it is only temporary. My acceptance is peace. So why the hesitation? I think I have come to realize my acceptance is also a release of the crutch of grief, the role of a victim. By no means am I suggesting anyone rush to get here. It has come in its own due time, but I have been noticing for a while now that allowing myself to wallow in the pain feels more like a tether than a new discovery. There comes a point when hanging on simply keeps me looking towards the past when there is so much of the mountain in front of me that I have yet to experience. God wastes nothing. Do I really want to have gone through all this work. . . to have fully faced arguably the greatest relational pain known to mankind. . . to not fully experience His rewards for enduring it? While I am sure I will have to reread these words for a time to come, I am also sure the need for the reminders will fade as I turn to present day opportunities and experiences with a new-found awareness. . . and peace. This will undoubtedly not be the end to the pain, but an understanding that the tools I've learned will guide me towards a safe line when all seems overwhelming. A choice to allow the wound to begin to scar. . . a scar that will not only remind me of the pain, but also the growth of His will and intentions.