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Acceptance vs. Approval

AcceptanceBy Martha Bush

“How can I accept this situation; it’s not supposed to be this way!”

No doubt, most of us have made that statement many times in our spiritually mismatched marriages. I tend to believe that God is agreeing with us and saying, “No, it wasn’t supposed to be this way.”

Today, I want to write about a teaching that made light bulbs light up within me as I listened to my pastor’s wife, the late Melba Berkeheimer, teach on Acceptance vs. Approval.

See what you think of this analogy when you think of the word acceptance, particularly as it pertains to hurts in your marriage.

There is a big difference between ACCEPTANCE and  APPROVAL. We sometimes think that we have to approve something or someone in order to accept the situation, but that is not true. We have to accept a lot of things in life, but we don’t have to approve them.

Think of it like this: If your body gets a transplant of a particular organ and your body accepts the transplant, you have a new  life. But if your body rejects it, you don’t have a new life.

So, it is with situations in our lives; acceptance is what we have to do in order to have a new life. Otherwise, there is a portion of you going this way and another portion going the other way. When things go opposite one another, it produces friction. And that’s exactly what is going on inside­–friction and turmoil because you’re saying, “I can’t accept it.”

Begin to go the same direction by accepting it, even though you don’t approve it. Sometimes you will even feel like you are a traitor because, after all, the situation is wrong. You are not a traitor. You are just accepting the facts of reality for your peace.


As I sat and listened to Melba teach on this concept of acceptance vs. approval, at first I was totally confused and discouraged. And so, my question to her was: “I understand that we have to accept things like death as a reality. But, I can’t accept division and discord in families. Doesn’t God want us to have harmony in our families?”

After bowing her head and thinking a long time, I shall never forget her response: “I won’t say that it won’t ever be, because with God all things are possible. But, what God could be saying to you is ‘when I get everybody like I want them, then I’ll put it all back together again.’”

Aha! I caught it, and I moved into the category of what I labeled as Seasonal Acceptance. I began to realize that accepting my present situation, even with the discord, did not mean accepting it as a permanent situation, because as Melba said, “with God, all things are possible.”

Admittedly, there were situations in which I had to detour around and make ADJUSTMENTS and set some BOUNDARIES in order to live with the situation in a healthy way.

The question you may be asking is: “How Do You Know When You’ve Reached Acceptance?”

This is what I discovered; perhaps it will be of help to you.

1. When I could talk about the situation freely, and it just didn’t sting or tear my insides out like it once did, I knew I had walked through forgiveness. 

  • Accepting one another and forgiving one another; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive.   (Colossians 3:13 HCSB) 

2. When I began to learn who I was in Christ, and that He had a plan and purpose for my life, regardless of my situation.

  • "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."   (Jeremiah 29:11 NIV)

3. When I started helping others who were going through hurts in their life. There is no greater joy than pouring into someone else's life what you have learned during trying situations.

  • Out of the comfort God has comforted you, go forth and comfort others. (Paraphrased from 11 Corinthians 1:3-4)

What about you?  Share in the comments what you feel you can now accept, even though you don't approve of it. Perhaps what you have learned will be an encouragement to someone else. You might also name adjustments you had to make.


NOTE: I can’t leave a post like this without pointing out to those of you in abusive situations that I am NOT saying to accept abuse for a season even though you don’t approve of it. Every situation is different and might call for different living arrangements for your own protection.



Share your voice, heart and love in the comments. 

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Marching Around Jericho is a spiritual guide. As you read through the pages, powerful and transformative instruction and equipping takes place. We follow Jesus as he leads us around the walls, imparting kingdom truths with each passing, finally arriving at the gates of the walled-off city, our spouse’s unbelieving heart. After the circles in prayer are complete, we arrive fully prepared to command the walls to crumble and be removed, making a way for our spouse to step from the rubble of lies and captivity, into faith and freedom!

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