Thursday, October 25, 2012
Acceptance. Now there’s a word loaded with meaning. We tend to confuse it with tolerance or even approval. But acceptance is about receiving, rather than judging….When we accept, we take an open stance to the other person. It is more than merely piously tolerating them. We stand in the same space and we appreciate who they are, right now at this moment, and affirm the Sacred in them. -- Radical Hospitality
Some of my biggest headaches in community come from my internal struggles learning to accept my roommates just as they are. I've had similar headaches with family members, friends, Paul, even Pedro. Typically these struggles deal with parts of a person's personality that may never change, things that can't be resolved from a discussion. One silly example is the way that Pedro has to smell everything when I take him on a walk. No matter how fast we walk, how many times I try to make him hurry up, or how many things he smells,he will always need to smell more, and I will not be able to change this Beagle-ness.
A light bulb went on in my head when I read the quote above from Radical Hospitality. I don't have to agree with a person or even be happy about a certain character trait to still accept and respect a person. A person may always disagree with me on political, religious, or social issues - which would typically have the power to drive me absolutely crazy and threaten the strength of relationships. I get so caught up in who I wish a person would be that I forget to accept, respect, and love the person that he/she is.
Taking the time to mentally acknowledge and accept where another person is has had a tremendous impact on me. I reflect that the person may never or cannot change and save an immense amount of energy fully accepting where the person is, right now at this moment. I also remember that I am not perfect and just because I wish a person was a certain way doesn't mean that should be that way.
Accepting Pedro's ridiculous smelling habits has lead to much smoother and calmer walks. I'm expecting him to smell lots of things, so I'm not as angry or disappointed when he decides to keep his nose to the ground for our entire walk. In fact, I find more joy from accepting and appreciating my little beagle for exactly who he is.
Do any of these feelings resonate with your experience?