Acceptance. If you’ve ever given or received it, you likely understand the power of this seemingly simple act. Acceptance is one of the most powerful expressions of love.
I recently had a candid conversation with a longtime friend of mine. He is an Orthodox Jew and has eight children. A mutual friend asked him how he would react if one of his children refused to follow the Orthodox path, the path he has guided all of his children towards.
Perhaps naively, I expected him to exclaim with total resoluteness, “As long as my child is happy and living a quality life, I would accept them as they are and love them fully. No matter what!”. His actual response – While I would love them no matter what, I would be disappointed.
Confounded, I reacted with initial judgment. And, truth be told, disappointment in him! How could a parent not accept their child with total abandon, whether that child subscribes to their lifestyle or not?
I then chose to reel back my emotional reaction to try to understand the meaning behind his words. After all, I too would be unhappy if my children didn’t embrace my core values. Especially when we encourage those values out of love and hope for their wellbeing. Disappointment can exist alongside acceptance. My friend reminded me that love, the most significant driving force in this world, often requires acceptance. We cannot fully nurture our relationships and support our communities during times of disagreement without it. Acceptance is a practice. And sometimes, the act of accepting feels hard and uncomfortable. Foreign even. And that’s OK. It is OK that my friend feels a bit of disappointment. More importantly, he reaffirmed that, no matter what, his children would never be deprived of his love.
Even when we do not align with another’s decisions, faith, political views, lifestyle, etc, we can always offer love and acceptance. It is what we ourselves need and hope for. With this essential act of humanity, we can coexist peacefully. And, in the best scenarios, we can evolve and progress as a community. This week, choose to accept and love. Despite our differences, let’s see what we are able to accomplish when we start with those principles. I expect greater happiness and forward movement when we do. Accountability, Community, Unconditional Love