J. Marshall Jenkins

Author, Therapist, Spiritual Director

Acceptance Amid the Unacceptable: A Meditation on Serenity and Justice

Acceptance of things is at the heart of meditation, but….

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness’ sake, for they will be filled (Matthew 5:6).

Sitting in centering prayer, moving inwardly away from searching and analyzing and just returning moment-by-moment to silent presence, I see so much more of myself.  By not trying to see, I see.

Often a pesky companion comes clear previously unnoticed in the blur of ideation: dissatisfaction with things as they are. This restless sense dogs me to fix something as yet unidentified for a satisfying equilibrium.

Repeatedly returning from that restlessness to acceptance of the way things are leaves me ever mindful that whenever I get lost, I need only turn inward to return home.  That return and acceptance cultivates righteousness understood as doing whatever it takes to love God.  It sets the inner stage for acts of love among neighbors and enemies alike.

Yet, a paradox arises. Led by high school students in Parkland, Florida, students across the country peacefully protested recently for action to make schools safer. Women across the country are speaking up against violations to their bodies and their dignity. Against new threats, civil rights leaders renew their fight for voting rights. 

In the face of this hunger and thirst for righteousness, could acceptance of things as they are be anything other than the devil’s temptation?

Yes, if that acceptance means believing the lie that things will always be the same, that the status quo will never move.  Oppressive powers believe that illusion and exert all their force and authority to prop it up.  Inner voices of despair and complacency tell us that nothing will ever change, insinuating that something less than justice can satisfy love’s hunger and thirst.  That is, they say, the way the world works, realistically.

DSCN9684But no, that is not realistic at all.  Things change constantly if subtly in many cases.  No empire stands forever.  No status quo fails to melt eventually and to flow like a river toward unexplored horizons.  Things constantly change. Martin Luther King, Jr. knew it, and all like him who hunger and thirst for righteousness still know it.  King believed that meaningful change springs not from an indifferent universe ordered only by the laws of physics, but from a Loving Heart, a Faithful One.  That belief made all the difference.

Honor your hunger and thirst, your yearning for the righting of the wrongs that plague you in your community, household, or heart.  Accept the way things are – not static, but changing.  Talk to God about it and trust God in the silence.  God will act in ways always mysterious but always loving.  Let go of anxiety for change.  Rest into the inevitability of it.  You will be filled.

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J. Marshall Jenkins

About J. Marshall Jenkins

J. Marshall Jenkins is an author, psychotherapist, teacher, and spiritual director. For several years he has been writing on the Beatitudes for people in emotional pain, publishing biweekly here on his Beatitudes Blog at http://www.jmarshalljenkins.com. His newest book, Blessed at the Broken Places: Reclaiming Faith and Hope with the Beatitudes, is now available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

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8 Replies

  1. Michael Parnell

    One of the hardest places for change to happen is in the local church. The local church does not change because we all find our comfort zone in it and we fight to keep that comfort zone.

    This is sad. Because the church stands for the possibility of change. When the church and her people resist change we run counter to our mission in the world.

    1. jmarshalljenkins.com

      Good point, Mike. Most social scientists who study religion used to define religion as an institution dedicated to the conservation of traditions and values. In other words, religion was all about resisting change to keep things as they are. I think many have come to realize that religion at its best is a paradox of conservation and transformation, not only conserving deeply held values but overturning stale and oppressive value systems and bringing in newness. Prophets, most certainly including Jesus and MLK, are all about that! In this era of crisis in western church traditions, churches do well to stop anxiously grasping to keep old stuff from getting washed away by change and to start receiving what the Spirit sends in time’s tide.

  2. Carine

    🙏 In quiet and in Peace I receive God’s Word! When I can ignore the impulse to act, defend myself etc. and turn within instead; the outcome is always peaceful. Accepting God’s Love and comfort within heals all external perceived threats and restores Vision by Grace through the Holy Spirit! Amen to this beautiful meditation❤️

    1. J. Marshall Jenkins

      Wise words, Carine. I agree. Acceptance reduces our reactivity and helps us respond more skillfully to unjust situations while keeping the peace within that we offer to those around us.

  3. I needed this article today

  4. Glad it helped. I suspect you needed it because you are a caring person.

  5. Thank you so much! So very comforting!

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