I knocked at her hotel door in floods of tears. I had spent the day touring the killing fields and torture centre of Phnom Penh. I thought I’d been doing okay.
I’d come back to the hotel and spoken with my family. I had eaten lunch and washed off the grime from the morning in the pool.
But as I sat in my hotel room vainly trying to read, I discovered an experience like that doesn’t wash off easily.
By the time the door opened, I had hit the ugly crying stage. She ushered me in and uttered those quintessentially English words of comfort, “Can I make you a cup of tea?”
We sat and drank tea, and talked about what we had seen that day, and about my sensitive nature and soft heart. She said, ‘I think you need to embrace that part of you.’
‘That’s interesting’, I replied, ‘I thought I had accepted it. Embracing it is a different thing altogether.’
Embrace and accept. The difference in these two words is nuanced, but it is important.
Accept: to take or receive something offered; to give an affirmative reply to; to take on the responsibilities, duties, etc.; to tolerate; to consider as true or believe in (a philosophy, theory etc); to receive as adequate or valid (from Latin accpetare to take)
Embrace: to take and clasp in the arms; to clasp as in affection, greeting; to accept willingly or eagerly; to take up a new idea, faith etc., adopt; to comprise or include as an integral part; to encircle or enclose (from Old French a pair of arms)
Am I merely tolerating life, receiving it as adequate? Or am I taking hold of it with both arms and clasping it affectionately? Accepting it willingly and eagerly?
I accept who I am, my sensitive nature, my introvert personality, etc. but I don’t embrace it. What if I truly believed that I am fearfully and wonderfully made?
I accept my husband’s crazy travel schedule, begrudgingly, I don’t embrace it.
I accept my girls’ zany personalities, but I spend a lot of time trying to change them, I don’t embrace them.
I need to move from mere acceptance of life to an embrace of life.
So this is my word for 2017, embrace. And I can see it already in so many areas: embrace work; embrace rest; embrace my creativity; embrace my sensitivity; embrace fun; embrace laughter; embrace sadness; embrace pain; embrace imperfection; embrace grace; embrace uncertainty.*
So this year for me is one of embracing the journey.
*Check out my embrace 2017 Pinterest board for more