Tuesday, February 26, 2013

acceptance and forgiveness

I feel like acceptance and forgiveness are like the chicken and the egg -- which comes first?

I have a friend, who, when he was my boyfriend, dumped me three different times.  The first time he dumped me because he got a promotion at work and was too busy to see me.  The second time he dumped me because he freaked out and felt so overwhelmed by his life that he couldn't make time in it for me.  And the third time he dumped me, surprise surprise, he didn't have time for me.

The first two times, I forgave him (obviously), but I didn't accept that the way he was (and the reasons for which he was dumping me) wasn't going to change.  I thought, "oh, if only he gets a less stressful job," or "if only he chose to make having a relationship a priority, this could work."  Except that that's not who he is.  Work is his priority.  No matter how much he talks about wanting a relationship (and he does), until that core value of his changes, he won't have one.  Or at least not with me.

The third time he dumped me, however, I went beyond forgiveness into acceptance.  I finally saw him for who he is, for where he is, and for what he's capable of now, not in some distant, magical future.  I let go of his potential, and accepted his actual.  The funny thing is, I don't know how I did it.  All I know is that it's done.

He came to me recently and told me he had a choice between a job that would be less demanding (but potentially more spiritually fulfilling -- yay!) and one that would be more demanding (but potentially soul-crushing -- boo!).  I knew immediately which he would choose, even though I was hoping he could find it in himself to choose the other one.  When he told me, he was worried I would be disappointed in him.  And while I'll admit I was sad that he was going to miss another opportunity to take his life in a new direction,  I wasn't the least bit disappointed in him.  Because I can now accept him for who he is.

In this case, forgiveness came before acceptance.  Three times.

However, I'm struggling with a non-romantic relationship right now, and I'm feeling pulled to accept before forgiving.  I know the situation won't change.  I know that.  But I'm finding it hard to give up hope that it will.  And that hope is addictive.  It's alluring.  And it's what leads me straight to disappointment.

When I write it out, it seems perfectly clear:  If I can accept that things won't change and I can forgive this person for being who he is (and not being who I want/hope/need him to be) then I'm scott free.  If I can let that hope die, then I can also rid myself of the disappointment.

So why am I having such a hard time with it?  Did the chicken have this much trouble with the egg?

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