As part of our celebrations for our 30th anniversary, we spent some time collectively reflecting on our motto and how we live it out.
The third word of our motto is accept. At this point, we are asked to embrace what we have allowed. In accepting, we are invited to a deeper degree of trust, a trust that can renounce anxiety and the impulse to control. We are invited to take up non-contractual, unconditional living and loving.
We often say we want this, but when it comes to the point, what seemed so attractive at distance looks differently close up. Consequently we permit so much to hold us back. Yet it is not our fallibility, our sinfulness or our helplessness that hinders God’s work but our falseness, our insistence on our own ideas, our projections into God’s work. What this step looks like in the negative, when it is refused by not accepting, is that we are never at home, never content except under certain controlled circumstances as determined by ourselves. We close ourselves off from God’s action and give ultimatums—in a sense, we refuse to become free. In this regard, excepting could be said to be the opposite of accepting. Settling for a great deal less, we would rather hold on to our anxiety, fear, and control than surrender them and open ourselves to hope. But to accept is to choose to embrace, to choose to surrender. It is an implicit expression of love and an explicit expression of trust.
For those of us who, by virtue of friendship, conviction, promise or vow have bound ourselves voluntarily to another or to others, this word of the motto also has a definite, physical out-going quality to it. Caregivers and parents of small children will immediately recognize the kind of availability this demands. Regardless of how we may feel, because we have made these commitments, we take up that which love and duty require, remaining quietly patient with the fact that not quite all of us may be willing yet. And as Julian points out, “God accepts the good intention and the toil of His servants, no matter how we feel.”