Book of Wrongs

An old friend and I were chatting about life. Kids and work, plans and promises made. And like it always seems to happen when two women talk, the subject eventually turned to our husbands.

After I described my husband (devoted, hard-working, principled) I asked her about hers.

He’s just very solid, she told me. You can count on him, she was saying.

And then she said this: He accepts people how they are and doesn’t expect them to be any different.

I thought about what a gift that was. How much heartache would I have saved myself if I’d mastered this skill early on?

All of the boyfriends and not-friends I surrounded myself with, the phonies and the fakers. The ones who weren’t faking and just were, but were not the versions of themselves I needed them to be.

It took me too long, I think, to put down my Book of Wrongs and let it go.

But it isn’t just about the people I surrounded myself with. It was about me, too.

If I had accepted myself and not expected myself to be different, I wouldn’t have had some of the struggles I’ve experienced.

In my social worker days, it was drilled into my head to Meet People Where They Are. I could accept, for example, that a woman wasn’t ready to leave her abusive partner and work with her from that place. I may have hoped that one day she’d tell me she was strong enough but if that day never came, I was still supportive. I could listen and encourage without needing her to change.

But life is different from work, isn’t it?

It is hard work to look at the people in our lives, including the person who lives in the mirror, and say I see you as you are today and that’s enough. It’s hard work to accept that every person is on his own journey in life. One may have learned patience while another was learning humility. One may have learned how to forgive while another learned how to listen.

It’s hard work to accept people as they are. But the alternative is even harder.

Are you still writing in your Book of Wrongs?

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  1. Branson says:

    As always, this post really gets me thinking. I love that about coming here! ;)

  2. Kyria says:

    WOW. What a great post. Yes, I am still writing in my Book of Wrongs. I have no problem accepting SOME people for who they are but there are others I am still trying to change! My Mom and I have had this talk several times when a certain person is annoying us. Even though we know we should accept that person even with their “faults”, it is still hard!

    This was very thought provoking!

  3. “Meet people where they are”. That is a wonderful motto. I need to do that more often.

  4. Wow, wow, wow. I was wallowing in my wrongs today. Should have read this a whole lot earlier! Love ya, girl.

  5. lindsey says:

    Smart and thought-provoking … lovely blog! Happy SITS day!

  6. Beth says:

    Do you know what I love about this post? That you and your friend were discussing positive attributes about your husbands!!! My friends and I usually fall into complaining about our husbands:(. I need to switch that around, for sure! thanks!

    • ML@My3LittleBirds says:

      Thank you for saying that Beth. I’m sure I’m guilty of complaining at times, too (although I’m sure he is as well).

  7. Kimberly says:

    Such a great post! It makes sense to work with people in your life from the place they are at. It removes the uphill portion of life relationships a little.

  8. Steph says:

    I tried very hard to practice this last night in a heated debate (for lack of a better word) regarding my children. I have a hard time meeting people where they are when I feel as if it’s not up to the standards I have set for my children….it’s a struggle. But last night after I had read this, I purposefully did not bring up anything in my book of wrongs in the debate (which is past practice) and focused on the issue at hand. It was still heated, and without any true resolution at the moment, but I did walk away from it without opening my book or adding anything to it :)
    I must add that I am currently going thru Oprah and Season 25 Behind the Scenes withdraw…it’s not that I get all my guidance from Oprah, but the aha moments seemed to be perfectly timed at moments when I needed and was open to hearing them…I must say, your blog gives me the same aha moments just when I need them and I thank you for them :) (Not sure your thoughts on oprah, but this is meant as a compliment :)

    • ML@My3LittleBirds says:

      Tough stuff Stephanie. I’m glad it was helpful in what I know had to have been a really stressful situation.

  9. Paula says:

    Excellent post. I am always enumerating negative characteristics of people that I know, and complaining about them. I need to work on this, and this post is a great reminder. Thanks!

  10. Charlotte says:

    I agree with Beth: I think it’s wonderful you took the time to sit with your friend and discuss the redeeming qualities about your hubbies. That’s a wonderful thing and (let’s be honest) not always easy! :) But it’s important.

    Happy SITS day–so glad I stopped by :)

  11. Amanda says:

    Wonderful. It’s such a good idea to stop and think about the messages we’re giving ourselves and other people about the world, and adjust them to be kinder and more accepting. Happy sits day!

  12. Tifaine says:

    Love This POST! Thanks so much for laying all out there for someone like me to read! Happy SITS day, I hope it’s been a BLAST for you!!

  13. Marcia says:

    Great post, ML. I think about this alot b/c one of my dad’s greatest qualities was accepting people for who they were. I strive to be more like him, but you’re right, it’s hard work.

  14. Wow. Such a powerful post. I’ve struggled in my life with men who aren’t who they say they are. And I’ve been MAD about it. This puts it in an entirely new perspective. I needed these words this year. Thank you.
    Kimberly at Rubber Chicken Madness recently posted..2012: Treasure Each MomentMy Profile

  15. I definitely have trouble accepting people as they are…but I have even more trouble accepting myself as I am.
    Teresa (Embracing the Spectrum) recently posted..Where I’m From {Just Write}My Profile

  16. Barb says:

    Love this Mary. It’s usually when I have my own “expectations” of others that I get myself in trouble. I get angry or pouty or disappointed. And I love the peace of mind and heart it can bring to do the same to myself. Thanks for such a nice piece of writing.
    Barb recently posted..Have a LaughMy Profile

  17. Unfortunately, I have to admit that I am still writing mine. I’m trying to let go of it, or at the very least, burn it when I’m done. We’ll see how I do in the new year with a fresh start. Lovely to have found you through SITS!
    Jessica@Team Rasler recently posted..One little resolutionMy Profile

  18. Marie Cole says:

    I have a long time friend who is really struggling and I try to guide her and nothing comes of it and I am forcing her journey and I need to just let it go and love her where she stands today.
    Marie Cole recently posted..Ahhh SpaMy Profile

  19. Jacki says:

    Wow, great post. I really struggle with this. My Significant Other is wonderful as accepting me just the way I am (not that I don’t frustrate him at times). He loves me for what I am this instant. I can’t say I return the favor as I am constantly pushing for more, from myself and others. I often remind myself that I need to take a lesson from his book.
    Jacki recently posted..New Year’s Resolution – Become an AthleteMy Profile

  20. Lisa says:

    Hmm, this is insightful. I tend to read into people more than is there. I need to work on their face value.
    Lisa recently posted..Please Lock Me in a Padded CellMy Profile

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