The Dilemma of Acceptance

Jarrel Oliveira
6 min readFeb 21, 2024

A Timely Challenge

The dilemma of acceptance is weighed by your understanding of a pivotal moment in life. Acceptance hangs on whether or not you understand why you are where you are with the predicament you find yourself in. What I mean is that understanding, the awareness of preceding factors, is inherently required in life for you to accept your circumstances no matter how dire they are. The lack of understanding, however, can make you existentially anemic.

What I mean is that when a parent reaches the end of their life we accept this reality for what it is. Life, for all things, at all times, must, without fail, outside a miracle, come to a conclusive and unmistakable end, a cessation that is in line with the natural order of all living organisms. So, when mom or dad passes away at some ripe age beyond their 80s, or 90s, we are saddened by the fact but accept it because we understand it. It is socially understood that parents die. We live, and then, after having our children, we too, die and leave behind our children. The understanding of the natural, expected, and accepted cycle of life helps us to continue our cyclical existence, albeit scarred by loss, we progress.

The dilemma I speak of here is not in the natural, expected, and accepted cycle, but rather, when our understanding is left wanting, although death or loss or misery or horror occurs in the life of an individual.

What I mean is that when grandfather passes away in his sleep or from an aneurysm or some other health-related issue, we are saddened by this happening but we do not come undone at the seams. We mourn but we do not revolt against God in the heavens or the devil in hell — not that he resides there, you know.

But when, say, a child, full of life, as if life is fluid or mass, is suddenly — poor choice of words, as if death were ever punctual — taken from us without explanation, our understanding is broken, and our logic of the world, our immediate world at least, becomes as porous as a basketball net attempting to catch rainwater. It is one thing for your grandfather to die in his sleep and another for your child to drown in your pool or get hit by a semitruck. Death happens in both scenarios but the acceptance behind each varies not because one member is old and the other isn’t, but because we understand that death comes to one, hopefully late in life. Knowing this helps us cope with the loss of an aged loved one. But dealing with the loss of a child, a spouse, or a friend long before they reach their senior years is not understandable, per se. It is unfathomable, hence the panic. When we understand the manner of death, not necessarily the finer details etched on paper by a mortician after the fact, but more so that at the end, we all die, we can begin to shed the scales that blind us to the reality that death, as does misery and pain, are present in every chapter of life.

Our lack of understanding of a situation is the determining factor in helping us move on or fall by the wayside when misfortune happens to lay its eggs under our lives. When you lose your job only to find a better one, you understand the loss therefore you move on with life, but if you lose your job without a backup profession in view, you are unaccepting of the predicament, and rightly so, because you do not understand the why you had to lose your job when you did.

What I want to say is that when a martyr is about to be immolated for his belief, he accepts it. No matter the pain, the excruciating flesh-melting pain of the fires to come, he will endure the ire of zealots and inhale the smoke of murderers to achieve a status of immaterial nobility for generations, if not centuries after his ashes are recycled into the atmosphere.

A condemned criminal, even, on the gallows understands that his execution, albeit an unfavorable reality for him, accepts it. Hence why several men and women sent to their deaths seldom struggle with their captors. They accept their fate as the cumulative consequence of a life of crime, an impenitent life of thievery, violence, and murder. Even there, with a noose around his neck, the murderer understands that he, a criminal by trade, does crimes for a living the same way an executioner pulls on a handle and men drop to their deaths. It’s in his nature. Whether he begs for forgiveness or not is his choice but he knows his heart is racing but his mind is at ease, he accepts his death because he understands it is a necessary consequence of his life choices.

But what are we to say of a man who is neither martyr nor criminal who finds himself at the top of an edifice conceived for his demise? He is innocent of any wrongdoing because a town gossip charmed a superstitious gossip who then produced a baseless accusation against him to the town’s guards who summoned the man before the local priest who, promptly, without evidence to the contrary to assuage the bloodlust of an ignorant and irrational society, set upon executing the man publicly. The innocent man now stands, head in a hole, waiting for the executioner to drop the blade on his neck. He screams, and desperation consumes him, as he pleads for his life.

What worries him is not only the fact that he leaves behind a wife and children, a community he loves, and a profession he thrives in, but also the fact that his name is sullied like that of a heretic. His mind races as the thunderous uproar in the crowd crescendos for his head to roll, his mind is not at peace, because he does not understand, therefore he cannot accept his fate, his predicament. He is an innocent man condemned to die a horrible death of a murderer.

Before he can cope with the finality of his circumstance his neck tingles for a split second and his vision blurs, his world spins, and he falls at the feet of observers as the world grows black just before a woman kicks him in the nose.

Life is about understanding not only what happened to us but why. We cannot accept that which we do not understand hence the number of people unwilling to live because so much in life is dim, esoteric, and cryptic.

Now that we understand that understanding precedes acceptance, we must acknowledge that not everything in life will be understood, therefore, not all will be accepted or acceptable. We accept death but only within the confines we give it and the timeline we’re comfortable with. But the truth is that death obeys no law, rule, or lord here on earth and when it follows its prerogative, which interferes with ours, we refuse to accept its works.

We want knowledge because we want to understand and when disaster strikes, horror engulfs, and terror consumes, we want answers without which we disintegrate into existential crisis.

The truth is that much of the universe, the distant void that moves outside of our perceived awareness, is still unknowable, possibly, it will forever be a mystery. Likewise, the universe within the mind of our neighbors, our own, is vast and at times illogical and chimeric, possibly, also, forever.

The sooner we understand that not all will be understood here, in the now, the sooner we can let go and loosen our grip on the idol of knowledge and understanding. Once we deliver ourselves from this idol we can competently accept that yes, there are things that happen just because they do. No explanation is needed. No resolute theme, narrative, or cast of spiritual characters is required to give clarity to the fact that life, with its many facets of joys and horrors, is just that, life.

I do hope you understand.

Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed. — Proverbs 31:8 NLT

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Originally published at on February 21, 2024.



Jarrel Oliveira

Husband | Girl Dad x4 | Dude | Dilettante | Blogger | Brazilian living in Canada. Life motto: Jesus said cool things.