Acceptance, the goal of every human being as it relates to peaceful living. We strive for it, long for it, go to incredible lengths to experience it, even for a just a short time. Acceptance is the pathway to peace. The feeling of peace psychologically can be described in several ways. First, peace can be the absence of fear and dread in a person's mind. Peace can also be the acceptance of reality from our personal perspective. Both definitions have the foundational undertone of protection and security. If fear and dread are not present in our minds, then we feel protected and safe. We experience this feeling when we are able to predict situations. Be able to predict things reduces the feeling of dread for our survival (from a biological perspective). Death is an unknown, and sometimes frightening experience for the majority of the populace. We understand, as best as our experience and perspectives will allow us, that death is the cessation of conscious experience and physical life. We fear this unknown, and we avoid it at all costs. Peace, therefore, is the assurance of safety in the present experience. Many people come to counseling to experience this sensation and state of mind. The Bible gives example after example, truth after truth, on how we may experience lasting peace.
If we are to understand the workings of the Holy Spirit in the world and in our lives, we must first understand how the Holy Spirit works in our minds and souls. The Bible says we are "accepted in Christ" (Romans 15:7). The apostle Paul here is referring to being grafted into the family of God through Christ. We are "accepted" into God's family. The Holy Spirit reminds us of the safety our souls experience when we belong to God. Are you catching some key words here? Belong, accepted, grafted. Each of these terms express safety for who you are. In my blog post over lying, I discussed reasons why people lie. One of the reasons, as described also by Carl Jung, is the need to hide oneself behind a persona for fear of rejection. Rejection is a paramount fear that is crippling to the populace. It is a terrible feeling to be rejected and alone. The Lord knows this and longs to bring us in, to accept us, into safety.
Safety, as understood in therapy, is the experience of expressing the true self (as described by Jung, Carl Rogers, and others). When trust and acceptance are the foundation of the present environment, fear leaves, and the true self can come forward. It is only when we express our true selves that we experience lasting peace and acceptance. As people, we are limited by our perspectives. We can only accept what we understand to be true, otherwise, anxiety and fear grip our minds. So, it is important to be in an environment where the true self can come forth.
Only Christ can offer the environment for the true self to flourish. Though counselors may do the best our human selves can, humans bring bias into every situation. We ourselves may be hiding and reserving judgement, masking our true selves in order to protect the persona of the client. This, I believe, is where therapy fails to meet the standard. The standard should be complete openness, and the only environment which openness is completely welcomed is in the presence of God. Jesus knows you as you are! He knows everything about you and understands your life like no one else ever could. Though you may try to dictate, to the best of your ability, your experiences and perspectives, no one else will ever truly understand and accept you wholly. But Christ can. Christ will accept you right where you are in life, and only He can offer true safety. Everything we long for can be found in Him.