Spiritual Wellbeing

Workshop: Acceptance the Pathway to PeacePremium Content

Karla Downling is an award-winning best-selling author, speaker, Bible study teacher, licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Change My Relationship. Karla’s passion is to see individuals, marriages, and families set free from the chains of dysfunction, scriptural misunderstanding, and emotional pain personally and relationally. Her messages provide practical solutions based on biblical truths that bring balance and clarity to life and relationship issues. She also desires to equip ministry leaders and lay counselors to reach out more effectively to those that are struggling with difficult relationships. Karla’s website is http://ChangeMyRelationship.com.

karladowning: Ok. Let's start off with a definition of acceptance. It is "taking or receiving what is offered, giving approval, believing, or accepting. It is putting out your open hand and allowing the thing or circumstance or person to be put into it and then closing your hand and pulling it toward you. The meaning of "accept" is "to receive as adequate; to receive with approval or favor; to take or receive."

The opposite of acceptance is refusal or disapproval. It is like putting out your hand and pushing it away. think about your life and the things you don't want; don't like; struggle with accepting. Are you opening your hand to receive them or pushing them away? I know for myself that I pushed them away for years and struggled with refusing to accept them. It took lots of energy.

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Learning and Coping in Recovery

There's a theory out there which asserts we have only two jobs in life:

    1) to learn
    2) to cope.

Spiritually, if we expound on this principle, we can see Divine Intervention at work, should we choose to embrace it.

The First Job: To Learn:

Scripture addresses our human need to learn. Proverbs 1:7 and Proverbs 4:7, for instance, are just a couple of verses which tout the important of wisdom.

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.

Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.

And, again, we are in dire need of this wisdom, as Paul reminds us of our vulnerable human condition...

The Serenity Prayer: A Weeble Lesson

While sifting through my childhood toys, I happened upon some Weebles.

What are they - and what do they do?

"...an egg-shaped Weeble causes a weight located at the bottom-center to be lifted off the ground. Once released, gravitational force brings the Weeble back into an upright position... The popular catchphrase, 'Weebles wobble, but they don't fall down.' was used in advertising during their rise in popularity..." https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weeble

As I was reunited with these toys, I remembered how, in my playtime, I often tried to put my Weebles to bed, lying them on their sides, only to watch them quickly spring to their vertical stance again. There was no keeping these suckers down.

"Weebles wobble but they don't fall down."

You better believe it.

Therefore, reacquainting myself with them in my adult life, I now view them through the recovery/struggle context and the famous Serenity Prayer:

Life Choices: Thermometer or Thermostat?

For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he... Proverbs 23:7

Senator Cory Booker, on an appearance of "The Daily Show," recently shared a powerful lesson with the audience:

"My father told me there are two ways to go through life: as a thermometer or as a thermostat. A thermometer: whatever someone says about you, you go up or down. A thermostat: you set the temperature."

Both the thermometer and the thermostat reflect life and its issues, including our stance on addiction and recovery.

And our choice has significant ramifications concerning health, well-being and prosperity. Each option offers its inevitable results.

So, it might be worth our while to ponder what those very results may mean for us.

First, the thermometer: its appeal is that self-gratifying moment. It doesn't require much work. You just let your feelings rip.

Restoring the Church as a Primary Care Giver

Ten years ago, few of us would have considered chemical dependency, sexual addiction, or eating disorders suitable topics for polite conversation within the church community. These were among the "silent issues" in the church. Today, however, addiction, compulsive behavior and abuse are widely recognized as problems of enormous personal and social significance. Consider these statistics (Washton, Bundy, Willpowers Not Enough, Harper Perenial, 1998).

  • At least six million Americans are addicted to cocaine.
  • Between five million and ten million are addicted to prescription drugs.
  • Ten million Americans are alcoholics.
  • More than 50 million Americans are addicted to nicotine.
  • Countless more are addicted to television, shopping, exercise, sports, and even cosmetic surgery.
  • It is estimated that every addict directly affects at least ten other people.
  • Divorce impacts Christian families as often as secular couples.
  • Abortion is the choice in 1 in 5 pregnancies, since 1973 Roe vs.Wade over 25 million performed.

Emerging Awareness

The Christian community is not immune to these difficulties. Many life-long Christians struggle with addiction. In addition, many people come to Christ hoping to find freedom from the bondage of addiction. Often these new Christians expect their problems will immediately disappear as a result of their conversions. Eventually, however, many discover that true healing requires a lengthy process of righting the wrongs of their past. Some of these people who suffer from addiction, compulsive behavior, or abuse find it difficult to be part of a church community. They may find that within their church, self-defeating behavior is denied, ignored, or minimized by those who use religion to shield themselves from life's realities

Pastors and church leaders are becoming

Trick Images of Self

I recently came across a souvenir my mother received from her British pen pal in the 1950's. It's one of those trick images of Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip; who you see depends on the angle of the portrait.

It brings to mind the following scripture:

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 1 Corinthians 13:12

And it made me think of my distorted image issues:

"...I stood in my bedroom, in front of my three-way mirror. I’d seen so many versions of myself. I’d been fat and thin, feeling both unworthy and worthy. Yet I was never satisfied..."
(Excerpt taken from Cruse's book, "Thin Enough: My Spiritual Journey Through the Living Death of an Eating Disorder")

Images and mirrors don't delve into great detail about each trauma, milestone, issue and phase of our lives. They don't accurately depict things as they are. Smudges and warps can alter what reflects back at us. And these images and mirrors certainly don't predict the future or explain the Most High completely.

Overcoming Self-loathing

I am astounded by the number of young people who approach me with such intense self-loathing. I frequently hear them say things like...

    "I hate myself; I'm so ugly, disgusting and stupid."
    "I hate myself. There's nothing good about me."


When I ask them, however, why they feel that way, I usually get this response:

"I don't know."

For what I am doing, I do not understand..." Romans 7:15

Statistics show...

"One in every 200 girls between 13 and 19 years old, or one-half of one percent, cut themselves regularly."

Perseverance: The Race Set Before Us

Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Hebrews 12:1

Gaman is a Japanese term of Zen origin which means "enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity". The term is generally translated as "perseverance" or "patience."

And, within Scripture, this principle is, indeed, a faith focal point.

... we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience. And patience, experience; and experience, hope: Romans 5:3-4

For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. Hebrews 10:36

I don't know about your physical education experience when you were a kid, but my class always participated in the annual presidential physical fitness test.

Is anyone out there groaning yet?

As part of that test to assess kids' fitness levels, things like pushups, sit ups and pull ups were measured. But the thing which caused me the most dread- and the least success- was the 600 yard run.

Now, is anyone out there groaning?

If you're not familiar with

What is "SELF?"

The English Dictionary defines *SELF* as...

A person or thing referred to with respect to complete individuality: one's own self; a person's nature, character, etc.: his or her better self; personal interest; Philosophy, the ego; that which knows, remembers, desires, suffers, etc., as contrasted with that known, remembered, etc. the uniting principle, as a soul, underlying all subjective experience.


I came to an understanding a while ago that my *SELF*, has many different hats so to say. For instance there is my Family-Self, (represented by my surname and genetic inheritance) My Work-Self, my Cultural-Self, my Social-Self, my Happy-self, my Sad-self, my National-self, my Lower-self
and my Higher-Self (which equals my Higher Power or Spirit- Self). I have a body-self, a mind-self, emotional-self. I also have an Addict-Self, and a Co-dependent-Self...etc...

People Who Fail (No other kind around)

For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Romans 3:23

I recently came across this little inspiration ditty circulating on social media:

    "God uses People Who Fail (No other kind around)."

That's become more of a revelation to me in the last few years, especially within the context of recovery. It's not a one-time, flawless thing. It's day in, day out, with some days being better than others. It doesn't sound glamorous or rewarding. Nevertheless, it is reality and embracing the process of life itself can be liberating if we, perhaps, give ourselves permission to fail. Part of that requires we not disqualify ourselves at the first -- or the one thousandth -- mistake; God doesn't.

"I have chosen you and have not cast you away." Isaiah 41:9

"For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope." Jeremiah 29:11

I often encounter people who are perfectionists -- and I get it. Among all the things I'm recovering from in life, perfectionism is, indeed, right up there. And, again, in the recovery context, it is

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