07 August, 2009


I wanted to write my blog today on the art of acceptance. And, I’m going to use the term, “acceptance,” a bit differently from how we normally think of it – but no differently from its actual definition.

Using the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, we see that acceptance is defined as: "1: an agreeing either expressly or by conduct to the act or offer of another so that a contract is concluded and the parties become legally bound 2: the quality or state of being accepted or acceptable 3: the act of accepting.” I’m going to use acceptance mostly in terms of the 3rd definition above (and somewhat from the 2nd definition), and not use the 1st definition as it defines acceptance in contractual instances.

So, in this blog, we will use acceptance as simply, “the quality or state of being accepted or acceptable” and “the act of accepting.”

What Acceptance Is

Acceptance is the beginning of love. Why? Because in order to accept another, love must first be present for you. Most of us don’t live that way. We generally and easily accept others who are like us – that is to say, who are like-minded (e.g. who think like us and see the world as we do). But that isn’t really acceptance. That’s simply agreement. It’s easy to accept another when you agree with their philosophies. It’s a more challenging thing to accept others when you don’t agree with them.

Some believe that when they don’t agree, love should tolerate others. No, no one wants to be simply tolerated. We all long to be accepted. And, love doesn’t tolerate. “It [love] always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” – 1 Cor. 13:7 (NIV)

But why, if acceptance is the beginning of love, is it not love? Acceptance only goes as far as you are willing to go. Once the acceptance of another ends, your love for that person also ends. In my eyes, acceptance has a symbiotic relationship with unconditional love. One cannot be present without the other.

What Acceptance Isn’t

Here is where we get rid of the old misinterpretations of acceptance.

Acceptance isn’t: agreeing with another person, condoning the actions or speech of another, or even giving another unrestricted access to you and your time. Acceptance isn’t giving another full-reign to walk all over you. Acceptance isn’t allowing others to take advantage of you. And, acceptance isn’t doing something for another simply because you see a need present.

My definition of acceptance is: “accepting another exactly as he is, and exactly as he isn’t.” Acceptance doesn’t require another person to change in order for that person to receive your love. Acceptance doesn’t require another to live by your rules and standards in order to receive love – that’s the definition of “conditional love.” And, conditional love, is at the root of all codependency.

Just as I’ve written the last several days, this is your choice and I’m not going to judge you for the choices you make. My job is to accept and love you exactly as you are, and exactly as you aren’t. Just understand that there are consequences to all of your actions. If you choose to accept another, there are consequences. And, if you choose not to accept another, there are consequences. Those consequences may be positive, negative, or both. You must make your own decisions about accepting others and be prepared to live with the consequences of your choices.


  1. How does acceptance relate to acknowledgement? Is there a relation?

  2. Sorry for my slow response, Andrew, and thanks for your question.
    You bring up a great point. Yes, there is a relationship between acknowledgement and acceptance.
    Acknowledement is the precursor to acceptance. In other words, one cannot accept what he doesn't acknowledge.
    Acceptance is acknowledgement in its own right - but neither acceptance nor acknowledgement mean agreement.
    So just because someone acknowledges that I say I'm 5'10" (for example), he doesn't have to agree with my assertion. He can simply acknowledge and accept that it is what I say, and disagree if he so chooses.


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