Posted by: Judy | May 18, 2021

Acceptance

Over at Inspy Romance, one of my favorite authors posted a blog “Loving the Unlikeable”: https://www.inspyromance.com/loving-the-unlikeable/

The question was asked “What do you do when you find a book with an unlikeable heroine?”

I responded: If a favorite author writes a hero or heroine I don’t like, I’ve come to realize it’s because they remind me of something I don’t like in myself. I like to see how they overcome/grow. I actually use the ideas to help me change myself. However, there are stories where I put the author on my never-read-again list if the person needs more counseling than I do but magically becomes a better person or doesn’t change at all because “you have to accept me as I am.” No. Not healthy.

Elizabeth replied: Interesting. So we shouldn’t accept people as they are?

Lincoln responded: Had a pastor say, once, that God accepts us as we are but loves us too much to leave us there. Obviously the issue in that case was sin. Personality differences are a whole nother thing!

I agree with Lincoln, but it wasn’t enough to quiet my mind. I realized my first comment was an incomplete answer. This is something I struggle with in my stories: I don’t write out everything I’m thinking and often leave out important information. My biggest editing changes come from needing to fill in what I failed to include, expecting my poor readers to be mind readers too.

I used the example of “you have to accept me as I am.” This is a common phrase used by users and abusers to justify not changing, to continue their bad behavior, to demand absolution without any hint of repentance (intentional change for the better). In myself, when I fall back on that phrase I’m abdicating my responsibility to accept the frailties and weaknesses in my life that I need to change.

We all say we want to be accepted as we are but do we really? Or do we want to be accepted for our best self? Do we really want those who love us to pretend we’re perfect, flawless? Or do we really want to be gently loved through our efforts to become a better person?

I grew up in a home where I was fed food that made me sick and I didn’t like and lectured about how fat I was, even when I could count ribs when I looked in the mirror. I was told that I was accepted and loved as I was when I was given chocolates and donuts and other treats and then criticized for my poor eating habits.

This boils down to a personal level: I was told I have to love my mother and accept her as she was, even as she abused me and lied about me. My counselor helped me learn that yes, I had to accept my mother as she was because she wasn’t changing. Pretending she was something she wasn’t made changing for the better on my part impossible. Once I accepted she wasn’t going to change and wasn’t going to treat me like a human being instead of as an extension of herself, only then could I start making healthy changes. I couldn’t change her, but I could and did change me, because I refused to continue accepting myself as I was. I wanted better for myself. It meant treating her differently. I no longer sought her approval let alone her love. I learned “gray rock”, a method of becoming as unresponsive as possible to someone who is manipulative/abusive.

In general, yes, we need to accept others as they are, but we also need to exercise wisdom and healthy judgement. Accepting others as they are means accepting that sometimes you have to walk away.


Responses

  1. You have many good points here. Generally speaking, many of us are too judgmental and need to learn to be more accepting of others (myself included). However I feel strongly that we all should seek change, even if sin is not involved (as implied by Lincoln’s comment). I want to be better than I was yesterday. I want to grow and become more like Jesus. So I also agreed with your initial comment. Dr. Charles Stanley often says that as long as we are on this earth, God will be molding us.

  2. Interesting post. I was not the girl or the woman my Mother wanted as her daughter. But I did not change myself to please her .I like to work on being present and turning over to my Higher Power.(God) For me that brings about positive change.


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