Why Radical Acceptance Is So Hard To Practice, No Matter How Spiritual You Are

I used to be a Christian. I wasn’t raised that way. My parents raised me in a way that I could make my own informed decisions. But Christianity pulls on people strongly. Those who believe are sent out to recruit those who are unsure. So at a very early age, I was going to Church with friends and their families. 

I still didn’t really call myself a Christian until after I experienced homelessness. Spending the amount of time I did in a southern Baptist fellowship did offer a certain vibe that was hard to turn away from. The Christians there are less God-fearing, and I think that type of Christianity holds a bit of charm. Or it’s possible that was just the Southern charm we hear about and had little to do with religion. Anyway, It was during that time I read the Bible. Front to back. 

I attended the services regularly, and in 2011, I got Baptized during a small ceremony at a local fellowship. None of my family or friends came. Not that I had a lot of family and friends, to begin with. I still have photos from that day and a little card made out of printer paper saying the date I became a member of the church and was saved by God. A few months later I moved again and started dating a Muslim man. And started to read the Quran. 

The books are actually quite similar in a lot of ways. In fact, I think most God-worshipping religions are similar in more ways than they are different. And for years I was okay with that. I figured books of religion were basically like that telephone game we played as children. Stories were passed down from generation to generation, each generation hearing and perceiving differently, and thus the different churches and beliefs were born. With this, I was able to acknowledge that every religion was a little bit right and a little bit wrong.

Eventually, I dumped the idea of being religious and started to focus on spirituality. A belief in a power greater than I and the idea that everything happens for a reason, for some greater good that hopefully in the afterlife I’d figure out. This was great because it allowed me to pray in ways I could relate to. It allowed me to ask questions that even the most religious people couldn’t answer. 

But it also allowed me to believe in the universe. I could meditate, I could do light work and spell work with nature, and stones, and read oracle cards. Eventually, this led me to Buddhism, because the Buddhist beliefs were so closely related to paganism and spirituality and answered more of my questions than anything else I’d discovered. Buddhism talks a lot about radical acceptance of human suffering, something I know all too much of. And somehow there’s comfort in the idea of “humans just suffer” rather than it being part of some greater plan.

That’s why I’m writing today. I had a short conversation with my therapist about how the reality is some people are never whole. Some people are just hurt from the beginning. And in some cases that will never change. Some people will never be able to heal. Some people won’t be touched by medication or any amount of perceived happiness or any amount of therapy. 

And that really sucks. Because these same people are the ones going to therapy on a weekly basis, and reading self-help books, and trying different religions, and going to yoga and meditation, and eating healthy foods. These are the insightful, self-aware people. The empaths. The star seeds. The people who can admit to their wrongdoings, desperate to grow. These are the people who want more friends but struggle to connect with people. Who always have a new hobby, who sometimes spend hours in bed just contemplating the meaning of life. These are the ones who think everything is a sign for something else. These are the people who have trauma, who have witnessed real pain and suffering. Who can’t validate a child dying of cancer because “God has a plan”.

Radical acceptance is hard though. Am I just supposed to stand up and say, “Well, my life sucked. Guess it is what it is.”? Am I supposed to constantly keep trying to fill a void that won’t ever be filled? Am I supposed to believe in the fairy tales that there is a plan and my only job is to hang on? 

The truth is no one has the answer to these questions. People believe what makes them feel better, people preach what makes them feel better. But no one on earth knows the truth and very few people will ever be able to relate to the questions in a way that they can truly understand what’s being asked and what’s being felt. And the reason I’m upset about this is that I don’t think I can fix it. 

I can find things to fill my time. I can surround myself with happy people and thoughts. I can fill my lungs with clean air, and drink water, and light incense. I can pray and read books. I can find something every day to make me feel happy and content. But in the back of my mind, I will always know that some things will just suck. Some people will just hurt. Some people are born to suffer. And I don’t think I’ll ever be okay with that, especially knowing that I’m one of them.