Tag Archives: friendship

Acceptance

I’ve been thinking about acceptance today. Not so much acceptance of trials and such in our lives but of people.  Perhaps it’s because as my girls get older they struggle more with acceptance in school. Or perhaps it comes from knowledge of many different kinds.

Everyone desires and needs acceptance. Especially acceptance from friends and family.

I think back on my own experiences. I always had a loving and accepting family. I was lucky.  It was a little harder with friends. Many friends ceased to accept me as a friend because they didn’t accept my beliefs. It always frustrated me. I asked a friend once, “Why can’t you accept me as a friend even if you don’t accept what I believe?”

She looked surprised.

I continued. “Can’t we agree to disagree and leave it at that? Go on being friends?”

She thought about it for a moment and conceded.

We all make mistakes.

We all make different choices in life.

I may not agree with your choices.

You may not agree with my choices.

Does that mean we have to cease to accept one another?

We need friends. We need support. We want people to accept us, foibles and all. Should we not then, be willing to accept others despite choices and beliefs?

I had the opportunity to experience an awesome event a few weeks ago. Our youth group leaders received a call from another religious denomination. They were learning about other religions and wondered if they could bring their youth group to one of our youth activities. A date was agreed upon. We gave them a tour of our building and then, through the 13 Articles of Faith, explained our beliefs.

No one argued, yelled or fought. In fact, their pastor went out of his way to point out the similarities in our beliefs. I could see that he and others clearly did not agree on a few points. But they weren’t rude. They didn’t get up and walk away. They accepted us. They accepted that even though our beliefs and choices might be a little different we could still be kind and loving towards each other.

Dot came up to me the other day and asked, “Mom, why is it that most of my friends have challenges?”

“What do you mean?” I replied.

“Well, my best friend in Oregon had Autism, and one of my good friends here speaks a little funny, and the other friend has some learning disabilities.”

“Does it bother you?”

“Of course not!” She exclaimed, indignant that I should suggest such a thing. “They are awesome people.”

“And that,” I said, “is why. You see beyond their challenges to the people they truly are. ”

I count myself fortunate to have children who are willing to accept and love even when it’s not the popular choice, and I hope I always do the same.

It can take a great deal of courage to ask for and give acceptance.  I hope my children, friends, and family will always know that despite choices and such, I will always love and accept them.

No matter what.

And maybe, if I can do that, I will be able to make a small difference in the world and in someone else’s life for good.

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Filed under Opinion, Parenting, Philosophy, Religion

Growth

I clutched my brown paper bag lunch in my fist as I walked into the lunchroom. Most of the kids had a hot lunch, and those who didn’t had cool lunches with Wonder Bread, cookies, and chips. I had thick dry homemade bread, veggies, and fruit. I didn’t mind, but they seemed to. I was dressed in hand-me downs, always neat, always clean, but not the “right” brand or “in style.” I didn’t see why it mattered, but they thought it did. I dreaded sitting down at any one of those tables, my one and only friend was sick, I knew what would happen. I quietly slipped into a chair with as few girls as possible, and in silent exodus they all deserted.

I didn’t mind moving to Oregon, it was an exciting place with the beach nearby and opportunities to make new friends. Maybe things would be different on the other side of the country. I made friends quickly; I was even in with some of the “popular” kids in middle school. But then I made friends with the under-dog. Oops, what was I thinking? I decided I could care less about popularity. I made friends easily then; they would come and go. Mom would ask me about what happened to so-and-so and I would shrug and say, “They moved on.” I called myself the stepping stone friend, it wasn’t comfortable and I didn’t like it.

I liked moving on to high school (and especially college), bigger school and easier to hide and avoid the cliques and popularity contests. I finally had good solid friends. Music has blessed my life in more than just one aspect. I was so eager to leave the childish behavior of popularity and fashion behind. Eager to discover who I was and that I didn’t need to change me to please others. Learning and growing, I discovered people who actually knew me and liked me and didn’t just step on me on their way to bigger and better friends.

I still find myself surprised from time to time when someone wants to be my friend; a little amazed that I am someone they want to get to know. I have come to value close friends and find them to be few sometimes, though I have many acquaintances and casual friendships. My out going nature masking the timidity which I feel in social situations.

A friend of mine is moving away tomorrow. I haven’t even known her for a year, but sometimes there’s just a connection that spans a lifetime. They just slip into your life like they have always been there, just slightly in the shadows where you could not see. You know that person has made a difference in your life and you have made a difference in theirs. You’re sad to see them go but excited for their opportunities. Memories to cherish and dreams to forge; I am a greater person for having known this friend.

Life has a way of interrupting friendships. We become busy and neglect to write or call, and time passing can make things feel empty and awkward. I think of other dear friends that I have neglected, and I miss them. While it may be hard to track down and renew old friendships, one thing I make the effort to do is honor the friendships created today.

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Filed under Memory, Philosophy, Writing