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It’s a strange thing isn’t it?  Acceptance I mean.

I mean it is something that the majority of us actually want, if we are truly honest with ourselves and something that we seek in life.  To be accepted by our family, our work colleagues, our neighbors and friends.

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It is also something which a lot of us, including those of us with mental health challenges, truly struggle with isn’t it?  To be accepted for who we are – even with our illnesses.

It hurts and unnerves us or unsettles us, even angers us when we are not accepted.  It seems harsh and uncaring, unjust and unfair when we are not accepted and can lead to a whole plethora of questions and soul-searching.  And let’s be honest here, it can be emotionally crippling when it happens can’t it.

I mean after all, what is so wrong with me, what is so bad about me, what is it that I have done, that they don’t like me, won’t accept me?

Do they sound like familiar questions, a familiar thought process to you?

Or perhaps you have reached a stage or place in life where you have asked these questions so often now, where those thought processes have been so present in your life that you have simply stopped asking them, simply stopped questioning?

Or perhaps your past experiences – your childhood or past relationships – were such where any self-worth that you may have had was crushed or taken from you?  Or perhaps worse still where you were never given any self-worth in the first place?

And where this happens what does it do to us and how we view ourselves?  And as a result of that what does it do to what we are willing to accept in life?

This question has been on my heart of late and I can’t help wondering how many of us are accepting what we think we deserve (as a result of the poor self-worth or self-image that we have formulated as a result of those bad relationship or lack of positive affirmation in the past) instead of fighting for what we need?

If our child was ill and needed medical treatment we would do all we could to get them the best treatment possible wouldn’t we?  Likewise for a parent were they to need medical treatment or for a loved one.  So why are we not applying the same standards of expectations when it comes to ourselves?

Destroying the internal dialogues of the past and changing the way that they affect us is not easy is it?

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As someone who experiences poor mental health I think this is one of my biggest battles.  Add as a mental health advocate it is also a battle all too often present when folk share with me the things that are affecting them.

As a Christian – even one with poor mental health – I am convinced this is not how it is meant to be.  Not what God desires for us.  I am convinced that I, that we, need to combat these internal dialogues and thoughts, and I am reminded of some of the words Paul writes in his admonishment to the church at Corinth (2 Corinthians 10:3-5 NIV)…

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.

I am convinced that God loves us and wants the best for us just as any good parent would want for his or her child.

So that is my new challenge to myself and one I invite you to consider.  “to take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

 

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