Acceptance is a term that carries so many different interpretations. It is a powerful lesson for me.
In our second women’s circle in Jamaica, we worked with our “shadow self.” Our shadow self is that personality part of ourselves that we are not particularly proud of which may have been with us for a very long time, often from our childhood. It may be losing our temper easily, being fearful of even the slightest changes in our lives, or playing the victim under every circumstance. These are just a few shadow selves.
My shadow self is being judgmental. I easily catagorize people who agree with me as “right” and people who disagree with me as “wrong.” I have been aware of this flaw in myself for a long time, and I don’t like to admit it to others.
I have been doing the work on this issue for several years. It used to be that I was judgmental of people who were confined to one religion. I had struggled with Catholicism ever since I left the church, many years ago. I saw Catholic followers “pick and choose” the parts of their faith they wanted to practice. I thought to myself, “If you don’t accept all of the teachings of the Catholic church, why do you stay in it?” I also judged the Catholic church based on all of the sexual crimes of so many priests being exposed after the church had covered up for them for years. I also judged the Catholic church for asking the poor and low income families to pay into the church, while Rome and many European churches were overladen with gold and jewels. At one time, the Catholic church was the richest entity in the world.
I have spent a lot of time working through my judgment of the Catholic church, and I no longer have these issues with the church. The situations are still concerns for me, but I don’t give the church the power to control how I feel about those issues. I no longer am angry with the church.
But my work with judgment continues on. In today’s world in the US, we have a volatile political environment. I have always enjoyed debating politics. But these days, debating politics has become much less civil than in times past. I can get caught up in judging others who disagree with me politically. I judge their compassion, their humanity, their perceived selfishness. I can feel myself experiencing a sense of hatred toward the more extreme political debaters from the other side of my position.
Because of the work that I need to do, I stopped watching 24/7 news. I stopped listening to my political radio station. I didn’t need anyone telling me what to think. I now just get my political news online, and from people from all sides of the aisle. I still have my personal opinions, but I am working toward being less judgmental of others who disagree with me.
Acceptance. This is the work I am doing. During our last women’s circle in Jamaica, each of us were asked to pull a card from a deck of cards Nancy from Jamaica had designed and sold me. Our intent while pulling the card was to think, “What tool will I need to usher in peace in the coming days and weeks and years (with the premise, ‘peace begins with me’)?” The card I pulled was acceptance. It all made sense to me, and was really no surprise. The connections between the Wednesday circle of our shadow self and the Friday circle was complete.
Acceptance. It is what it is! I need to accept that everyone is on their own path, and I can only offer what I have in my heart. Whether they take it or not is up to them. I cannot judge another belief system or see it as my duty to change it. “Just this” is what I have to offer. It is what it is.
When I read the definition attached to “acceptance” in Nancy’s cards, it said, “What an opportunity for growth!”