You know I love painting with the Ladies. We are a very diverse group. I’m not sure what holds us together other than our painting, but we do click well. It may be the honesty between us – the feeling that we can say anything and often do. Today the Ladies gave me a little birthday party (my birthday is next week). They gave me a fancy coffee cup with the letter "L" and some fancy coffee. They baked me a cake, put candles on it, and sang a very out of tune Happy Birthday. It was all very sweet. They made a card that said, "Your friends are someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are."
Yet, I seemed to struggle today – a bit argumentative (so what else is new). Do friends really accept each other the way they are? What the heck does "accepts you," mean anyway? I like these ladies. I like painting with them. We laugh and discuss odd topics. They have some very New Age (for lack of better terminology) views, which are certainly not my views. Although I don’t always voice my opinion (I really don’t), that doesn’t mean I accept their opinion. Many times I recognize that my world is much different than theirs. Nothing I say is going to change that, and chances are they are not going to accept my views – so I keep silent – on some things. Today I was not silent, and I am wondering what they thought of my views.
This is what I think:
Although I think positive thinking is good, I think affirmations (a big buzzword) are often misused and silly. Sayin’ it don’t make it so. While I do think saying something positive - like, "I’m going to have a happy day, I’m going to smile no matter what, etc, " is good, I think saying things like, "My husband’s family loves me and all is fine," won’t make them love you and is just silly. To me, it is just lying to yourself rather than facing reality. Reality (your husband’s family hates you) may be difficult, but you can learn to face it and deal with the reality in positive ways. Repeating a lie is just lyin’ - Just sayin’.
Another big buzzword is "unconditional" love. I think love is conditional. I also think that you can love someone, but not "accept them the way they are." Sometimes there are things that you have to say, "No, I won’t go along with this. This is not okay," especially if their behavior is destructive. Destructive behavior could be physical - like alcohol or drug abuse, but it can also be spiritual. But what if their spiritual belief is not the same as yours? I know that if I spoke my spiritual thoughts to some people, they would not accept (that word again) me at all; in fact, I think they would hate it and me. Therein is my struggle. How much of myself do I reveal?
Here is an example; While having lunch with a good friend years ago, she told me that she was planning on having an affair. Horrified, I gave her all the reasons I thought this was a bad idea. She poo pooed away my views and made excuses for why it would be okay to have an affair. Finally I said, "But God said it was wrong." The window closed. She rarely spoke to me again.
If you know me at all, you know that I don’t particularly care what people think of me. Yet, I do know that some things spoken out loud would be real friendship enders. When my Ladies say something that I disagree with, I have to make a decision on whether to speak out or stay quiet. Just because I stay quiet on some things, does not mean I accept them. And when I speak out, it is actually a sign of my love for them. It was a tough day with the Painted Ladies.