[Sorry about this late posting…pulled an all-nighter at work last night, spent most of today recovering]
ACCEPTANCE (and forgiveness)
I believe that acceptance is the basis of almost every kind of love. From the “love for the common man” to the “spend the rest of your life with me/partner” kind of love, you could measure the relative nature of the love by the level of acceptance you have for the other’s qualities. Forgiveness is the natural result of acceptance. If we have truly accepted the qualities of those we love, we have implicitly forgiven them for any past or future actions that result from that quality.
You are driving down the road, traffic is snarled, another driver cuts you off. If you’re sane, you don’t take out an Uzi and kill them dead. You don’t spend the rest of your life trying to hunt down their kin to use as part of a pagan ritualistic sacrifice. Your moment of anger is replaced by your acceptance of the other driver’s actions. You may consider the amount of stress we all live under in this society of ours. You may just consider their actions to be the result of the driver who wasn’t paying attention momentarily while some kid in the backseat screamed. You may simply dismiss the driver as an uncaring individual and vow never to associate with THAT kind of rubbish. Eventually, the “love” you feel for your fellow person in your society overcomes your anger and you first accept, then implicitly forgive them.
A similar story plays itself out with our “love you forever and ever” partners. We need to accept everything they have been, are and will be in order to effectively live out our lives together. It may be they love cats (and you’re allergic), it may be that they drink milk out of the carton (and you don’t) or it may be that they like to hunt small furry woodland creatures (and you’d rather be saving the whales). If, as in many of the previous instances, we cannot outright accept one or more of our partner’s qualities, we need to trust the relationship’s strength to bring them up and work together to come to a point where you can accept them.
If we don’t find a way to accept our partner’s qualities, many of us often repress or ignore it and pretend it doesn’t exist. When we do this, we end up placing our partner’s feelings above our own - and unless we obtain something in reciprocation we run the risk that we will soon begin to resent our partner for their selfishness. Assigning the quality of selfishness on our partner is rather shortsighted, though; we were the party who didn’t accept our own lack of acceptance and communicate it to our partner originally. This lack of love, in this case self-love, ends up only hurting us in the long run as we continue to see ourselves making more and more sacrifices without our partner returning the favor.
Acceptance is the “A” of love. Accept it, yourself and everyone you love. It will not only build stronger bonds, but it will bring to you a richer, more loving experience on this ride we call life.