Acceptance and Denial
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Most of us, after a certain age, start to see our parents or grandparents. We realize that we have Grandma’s nose or Dad’s ears. Perhaps we’ve always known about the family stature and delighted in either reaching it or passing it. For some, their vocation is also a matter of family tradition. There has been an on-going debate about what skills and talents might be genetic since man first realized inheritance applied to more than just land holdings and revenue.
Recently one of my own progeny said they heard my words coming out of their mouth. I should in complete honesty add that they did not seem overjoyed at this event but they did admit the wisdom of the words they’d had spoken to them as a child. A parent has to take their compliments whenever and however they can!
I had an acquaintance once that looked very much like her mother. She was not very happy about this and I could understand why. It is to be hoped that all parents nurture and support their children but the truth is that some people never really mature in their roles as parents. In short, some people bear children without having a clue as to how to nurture them. My acquaintance’s mother was not a supportive person to her daughter and often was a hindrance.
Having known this person for several decades and upon a chance meeting, I inquired about her mother. I was being more polite than expressing any real interest but was very surprised nonetheless when my acquaintance smiled and said her mother was doing well, having outlived most of her contemporaries. I asked if their relationship had improved. My friend smiled and said that it had not. She then casually said that while one might grow older, one did not always mature with age.
I had seen this acquaintance through several crying bouts when we were younger because of the pain and neglect of her mother so her offhanded remarks caught me by surprise and I told her so. She replied that she still looked like her mother but now had accepted the resemblance. “Just imagine,” she asked, “what the woman would have done if my looks were not proof I was her own child!” While her mother’s behavior had not grown with age into a more loving relationship, my friend’s acceptance of her familiarity of physical appearance had brought her comfort.
All too often our value as a person is based upon anything and everything except who we are inside. Regardless of which creation story you believe, we are uniquely made and individuals in our own right. When we allow the behaviors of others to be the currency of our souls, we are denying our right to self-worth.
I hope this week you are looking into your mirror and seeing past your reflection. Our true value is found not only in physical appearance but in our actions and our words, our compassion and treatment of others. At some point we are all alone with ourselves. We should strive to get to know ourselves and then become a person we can like, a person we feel as value.
The Beatitudes, the subject of our series this Lent are about acceptance. When we recognize the cause and accept the effect, we are then able to move forward. Sunday is, in many cultures, considered the first day of the week. It offers new beginnings and hopes, the chance to fulfill our aspirations and meet our goals. It is followed by Monday, arguably considered the most detested day of the week. Sunday and Monday are two sides of one twenty-four hour period and our acceptance of their shared twelve hours either determines whether it is a Super Sunday or Manic Monday.
We create our own currency. No one else can do that. No one else can be us. When we allow someone else to deny us the right to be ourselves, we are abdicating our own presence and bankrupting our self-worth. “Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life, but define yourself.” Harvey Fierstein’s advice is pure gold.