(photo: From Church School Media Center wall a few days ago)
“Acceptance: The action or process of being received as adequate or suitable, typically to be admitted into a group.”
We live in a society that sometimes discourages us from accepting ourselves. We’re always supposed to be striving for more, aiming higher, never be satisfied with things the way they are. We should be thinner, richer, have a better job, better grades. Not having a competitive personality is seen as a character flaw.
Last night, while watching the PBS series The Roosevelts, I couldn’t help but think of acceptance. FDR was arguably one of the best Presidents in the history of America, yet he had to hide the fact that he was unable to walk without extreme difficulty and much assistance. To be photographed in his wheelchair, or being carried, or having the public see the extent of his disability would have been perceived as a weakness.
Sometimes there are things that happen to us that leave us with permanent consequences. Polio, in the case of FDR; a spinal cord injury in the case of Christopher Reeve; Parkinson’s in the case of Michael J Fox; traumatic brain injury in the case of Gabby Giffords. While it’s important that people never give up and never stop trying to rehabilitate to the fullest extent they can, it is also important to accept themselves as they are in the moment, and for us to accept them as well. We also need to understand that sometimes, no matter how consistent or diligent the effort, there are folks who are never going to be 100% the way they used to be. That doesn’t make them a lesser person, just as governing from a wheelchair didn’t keep FDR from being a great President.