Spiritual acceptance comes about in as many different forms as there are people who experience it. There is no one way that it comes about. But, generally, the experience is sudden or gradual.

First, let’s clarify the difference between acceptance and spiritual acceptance.

Sportscaster Warner Wolf would often say, “Let’s go to videotape.” I say, “Let’s go to Wikipedia:”

Acceptance is when a person agrees to experience a situation, to follow a process or condition (often a negative or uncomfortable situation) without attempting to change it, protest, or exit.

Now with this type of acceptance, you really just bite the bullet and do it. You might not like it or agree to it wholeheartedly, but you’re no longer protesting. You know you can’t do anything, so you surrender.

Unfortunately, there is no Wikipedia entry for spiritual acceptance. But, thankfully, the teachers and saints who walked this planet before us offer us some guidance. Below is a mixture of both.

Spiritual acceptance embraces the bigger picture; understanding that this life situation is just a piece of the puzzle, or just a piece of the journey you’re on. Spiritual acceptance understands that everything is happening according to Divine timing. You might not agree with it on some level, but knowing that there is Divine Order going on, even though you can’t see it or understand why it’s happening now, allows you to let go and let God take over.

Sometimes, we start from a point of understanding that we can’t accept this situation right now, but knowing that the Divine Order of the Universe is working.

Now that you recognize the difference between acceptance and spiritual acceptance, let’s talk about the gradual kind of spiritual acceptance.

Again, what I am speaking of is not limited to what I write about. The gradual spiritual experiences are the most common. In fact, most people do not even know that they have gone through this transformation. It is usually pointed out by some close friend or family member.

Have you ever said to someone (or have you ever been told) that “you’ve changed.” The conversation would usually be similar to this: “A year ago you would have never said that…or acted like that. Something has changed in you.”

And for the first time, you actually are able to take in that wonderful validation and acknowledge the difference in you. And what a joy it is to have that validation of your spiritual growth, which has come about through your acceptance of yourself, of others and of the Divine Order of the Universe.

Another gradual spiritual experience is that, over time, your love and/or understanding of someone or something grows and grows. It didn’t start out that way. Through prayer and meditation, the discomfort you feel about a person or situation gradually decreases, until the discomfort is no longer there.

In fact, you begin to appreciate that person or situation because you can now see how the Divine Order of the Universe has just worked through you, helping you to become more at peace with yourself through the very prayer and meditation you practiced to balance those feelings that were overshadowing you. You may also see a valuable lesson in the discomfort you felt towards the person or situation.

What I’ve talked about so far is gradual spiritual acceptance. It is so called because it comes about so slowly that you don’t realize that it has happened. Often, it’s only when you react differently to an experience that you recognize that something within you has changed.

But there is another type of spiritual experience; one of a sudden nature. This experience is referred to as a “spiritual awakening.”

A spiritual awakening can also be as different as the many folks who have had this experience. But make no mistake about it. It is a direct contact with the Divine.

One can experience this awakening in many ways: through a vision, a thought, a physical manifestation, and other ways. They can take a religious form, meaning one can experience visions of a particular saint, avatar, or hear/see these visions direct them, touch them, heal them. Or it can be a non-religious experience, e.g., a vision of light or lights, seeing the eternal light of others, hearing voices or having feelings of outer body experiences.

Having experienced “awakenings” myself and hearing about the spiritual awakenings of others, I know that, yes, they do change your life forever. But it’s not like you become a saint or can now walk on water.

These experiences are life changing, but they also provide insight to be “In this world, but not of this world.” What I mean is that they help you not become overshadowed by the events that continue to happen in your life, such as abuse, additions, death, illnesses, etc.

Having had as many as twelve near death experiences (that I am aware of), I have experienced intense light, heard voices giving me directions, and experienced intense emotional feelings that have left me both as “high” as a kite and so drained that I could hardly move or talk.

I have also experienced this awakening even when not knocking on heaven’s door. One of the first times I remember experiencing such an awakening was while I was a monk in the Hare Krishna ashram I lived in for several years. While chanting and gazing at the Deities on the altar, a peace came over me like a warm blanket, and tears just rolled out my eyes. All of my external thoughts were gone, and nothing existed but me and the Deities. I felt a peace that enveloped my whole body and consciousness.

When we accept something in a “spiritual” way, we are able to feel the acceptance, see a person or situation in a different light and not have the person or situation (as some folks say) “rent space in my head” going forward in life.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Hoare, D.D., is an author, minister and certified Angel Therapy Practitioner. He is the author of “Returning to WHOLENESS… Discovering Ah-Man,” which chronicles his journey to recovery and redemption and the founding of his spiritual recovery program: Ah-Man. Through a series of retreats and one-on-one counseling sessions, Hoare teaches men and women to embrace the Ah-Man within them by creating a loving relationship with one’s self, God and others; openness with other people; a sense of integrity; and the ability to communicate; all by incorporating trust, forgiveness and acceptance, thus allowing them to reach spiritual recovery and wholeness while attaining personal healing. You can find him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.