Posts Tagged ‘Acceptance

17
Jun
09

Only Friends get to Have Friends

It took an hour for me to write “Move on and Chuckle” yesterday. Even after thinking about it for the entire day, the words were not flowing smoothly. After it was FINALLY posted, I realized why. There is a fallacy in the argument. I am accepting of people already – this is not a growth area for me. However, in the past years, I have lost some very dear friends due to political and religious views. Some relationships, while in tact, have been very strained.

Acceptance is a struggle for me, but it is a struggle from the outside. I do not like to walk away from an evening out feeling like I compromised my beliefs in the name of polite company. I personally feel that everyone brings something to the conversation. I am not chafed by those who disagree with me and I welcome a differing point of view. However, I have found that as I am identified as a Christian, there is an assumption of haughty judgement. People begin to apologize for their actions while they scrutinize my own.

The priviledge of being included in a group, whether it be a church picnic or my oldest friends, comes from knowing that I don’t have to watch my tongue. That if I mention an affection for Ronald Reagan, the statement will be taken as an insight into my personality, not a challenge to anyone’s intelligence.

Unfortunately, many people I have tried to befriend over the years accept my very existence as proof that they don’t measure up. It would grieve me to know that something I said caused this misperception, but I don’t really think it has. I have found that people understand their own shortcomings more than we realize. I know that I personally see every one of my failures when I witness somebody else living the life I expected for myself. My personal issue is success. I had hoped to find wild success in the world and I feel that I did, but it is certainly not visible. When I learn of someone from my past who experiences real, measurable success, it is a great struggle for me and I am fully capable of behaving like an ass in these situations.

I have had friends who were involved with drugs or who were alcoholics, or struggling through divorce. My heart goes out to each and every one of them, but the anger directed toward me has often made the friendship unsustainable. It was in the midst of this that I discovered people’s tendency to judge themselves. I need not say a word about leading a Christian life to invite hostility, but would these people be hostile against any person who avoided the mistakes they find themselves trapped by?

Being Friend of the Week did change me, but I cannot be any more forgiving. This newfound status has shown me that true friendship and the positive benefits that come with it is only possible when everyone involved feels comfortable where they are. It is one thing to struggle through something difficult, but completely different to allow the struggle to own us. People who fester with discontent are toxic. I have been there. When I looked for the root of my anger, I discovered that I hated the way I was living my life. It had nothing to do with the people I was angry at and everything to do with me.

Now, as Friend of the Week, I will not apologize. I will not hide behind discussions of John & Kate to avoid being controversial. I am absolutely going to address the differences in my relationships. We may even celebrate them. Anyon

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17
Jun
09

Move on and Chuckle

The Bible strongly encourages us to have fellowship and not to be alone. Personally, I kind of prefer the “alone in the desert” part of the Bible. I can be a little reclusive. Therefore, when the topic of tolerance comes up, I gag a little. When people want to hug, I just step away. I am confused by women who complain that their husbands don’t spend time with them. I have never sat in a circle to sing Kum By Yah or whatever that song is and I failed therapy (Yes, you can fail therapy. You can drive the therapist to meds and you will be labeled) because I would much rather discuss Iran’s election than any hidden reasons I am unhappy (it’s actually TARP, not Iran, that makes me most unhappy).

So I was a little surprised at a church gathering on Sunday when I found myself enjoying the company of virtual strangers. Not just enjoying it, but actually languishing in it. It’s a new and very small church so we don’t know each other, yet we regularly step from our different backgrounds to ponder the greatness of life. We bowed our heads in prayer and I wondered if this is was so restorative because it was fellowship ordained by the Lord. I believe that it was, since we were gathered in His name. But as the week wears on, I am picking up on something else, too:

Acceptance.

Is it possible that acceptance is the greatest expression of love? It is the essence of unconditional love. I discovered it late last night when I learned I am “friend of the week,” an honor bestowed by complicated first love George, whom you may read about in my very first posts. George and I dated for years, but grew apart as adults since I got married and became a conservative Christian and he embraced his homosexuality and the more liberal ideology that comes with it (that is the quintissential definition of growing apart, BTW).

George and I had not spoken for a while…Many years…and we reconnected on Facebook. It’s been awkward, but finally we had an exchange that went beyond liking each other’s status. That led to the silly honor of friend of the week. To him, it’s very silly, and he may even be making fun of me. To me, though, it meant the world. He introduced me as on-again off again girlfriend of liberal roots who turned into a kinder, gentler Ann Coulter and he thanked me for calling him out on his liberal rants. And that is what hoisted me to Cloud 9. Our Facebook friendship was awkward because not only are we different from each other, but we are different from our expectations of each other. Unfulfilled expectations are the enemy of relationships. Thus, this acknowldgement of our differences was an amazing gift. He will not likely know the value of what he did, but it will change me forever.

I began to consider that he had accepted me for who I was then and who I am now and I thought of the friends I have now. I have 64 on Facebook (not that I’m keeping score), but I have 2 true, clean-out-my-house-before-my-funeral friends. I feel blessed to have two; I think many have fewer. They get to clean my house before my funeral because they know what’s in it and they still love me. If they did happen to find a surprise, they would chuckle and move on, not judge or question. Maybe they would squeal, but it would be with delight in knowing I had more to offer, something yet uncovered.

This is how it’s going to be from now on. I would much rather chuckle and move on than leave the house a mess, too disgusted to continue. Jesus never turned from anyone; he never made a person feel shamed or unfit. We people have mastered that. Ironically, we even do it in His name. I am sure that is different from His expectation and yet he will still make us His friend of the week.*

*Please excuse the vacation bible school cliche. It was unavoidable. Surely you understand and accept me anyway.




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