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.