This week in the Living the Virtues Series is Acceptance of Others. Last week I wrote about accepting yourself. If you would like to read that blog post, click here. I pulled the quote for this week from Thomas Merton: “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy if anything can.”
Merton is pointing out that it is not our task whether or not to judge people based on how they live their lives or who they are. We may agree or disagree with their circumstances or living but all that should be required of us is love, nothing less. Sometimes this is really difficult especially when we do not agree with the choices that people are making in their lives. Sometimes they don’t look at life through the same lenses we wear, and so we find excuses and reasons not to associate with them. I have seen it, lived it, done it. What truly is expected of us is just acceptance. We don’t have to agree. We don’t have to ignore. We do have to choose to accept each other, right where we are.
Our task, or job in life is not to change the people that surround us. You don’t marry someone hoping to change him or her. You don’t become best friends with someone hoping that he or she will see it your way. We are not to control others with our faultfinding thoughts. Merton states that this is not how we act. Act, instead out of love. Don’t worry if they are worthy or not, for it is better to accept someone just as they come to you rather than to be critical and denounce their worthiness.
Just to be safe, I am going to write that we should not condone unhealthy behaviors. We should not put ourselves into abusive relationships. When you look at others and accept them for who they are, it doesn’t mean you are bringing into your circle hardened criminals. There are ways to be compatible, and ways that are dangerous. If you are working hard at being peaceful and sincere, then you surround yourself with those types of people. Having similar missions in life with the people that are in your immediate existence is really helpful to learning how to live the virtues. These people offer opportunity and conversations that will help you grow.
We do learn a lot from other people in our lives. For example, if you are trying hard to live honestly, and you are around someone who lies, this births an opportunity. You have the opportunity to say to that person: “There isn’t a need for that. You can simply tell the truth.” It doesn’t mean you judge him or her, or set them apart, or treat them differently. Maybe they are struggling with knowing what is right and good and you have just helped them understand the virtue of honesty. This develops another attribute of you looking inward at your own life and seeing if you are living life with honesty. Eventually, if you are working on it and you feel like you are mastering it then there will be less of a desire to be around people who do lie. As you evolve into certain niches in your life, you will feel joy and happiness when you are around people who are compatible with those little niches.
Everybody is worthy of love. Period. All beings desire love. It isn’t anyone’s business to decide who gets it and who doesn’t. That is not our job. Our business is to just love. The love that we have for each other will then, in turn, make all of us feel worthy. You can have unconditional love and still have a filter. You can decide who you want in your inner circles. One of the things that people do is pray for others when they feel that a person may be struggling. That is not a judgment, but an act of love. Giving love in certain manners is unconditional. This type of mindset or behavior in your life will help you apply this into your life and be a better person, not only mentally, but emotionally as well.
So in order to be accepting of others you need to practice this until it becomes second nature. Doing a mental training exercise each day can help you achieve acceptance. I call this application the affirmation. By speaking small affirmations out loud and thinking what that truly means, we can change our neural pathways. We can change the way we think, act, live. So this weeks affirmation is: “Each day I feel more and more accepting of others, through recognizing and showing appreciation for our difference.” Choose to accept others no matter their lot in life. This is this weeks installment of Living the Virtues Series on Acceptance. Thank you for reading. InJoy your day!
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