We spent some time out at the ranch this past weekend, and while we were there I kept feeling this overwhelming sense of gratitude for the family placed in my life and for the blessing it is to be surrounded by people who are loving and accepting and kind and good and an example of how family should be for one another. I'm not a perfect person. We all have our faults and our deeply held beliefs and opinions and our life path that we chose and our weird personality traits that are sometimes good and sometimes bad, but I kept thinking to myself how lucky I am to be surrounded by people who choose to love others just the way they are. I think you have to come to a place of security in yourself to see differences in others - areas where you may disagree and sometimes strongly - but love them anyway.
Just when we got home from the ranch on Monday, I got into yet another fight with a challenging person in my life (sorry to be vague, but this one is a bit too personal to get into details about - it's a relationship I've chosen not to discuss on my blog), and I got to thinking about the difference between accepting and loving someone fully when it's easy, because they're just like you, and accepting and loving someone fully when it's hard... when they are very different. And that's the measure of real love, isn't it? It's our natural inclination to surround ourselves with people who are just like us, because they make us feel good about ourselves and they agree with us and they don't challenge us or make us question the paths we've chosen. But I think it's so important, as a citizen of the world, as cheesy as that sounds, to be OK with people who are different. Who come from a different culture. Who believe in a different God, or none at all. Who have more money than we do, or less. Who voted for a different president. Who speak differently, live differently, look differently, make different choices. IT'S ALL OK. The only thing that isn't OK is when someone discriminates against you or is cruel or makes assumptions or casts insults because of those perceived differences. That's been my struggle with this person in my life. Where do you draw the line between loving someone despite your differences and "taking their crap?"
Personally, I think it's important to respect yourself enough to let go of relationships that only add toxicity to you life, and focus your energy on the ones that add light, instead. Not because they agree with you and make you feel good about yourself and have things in common with you, because they may not even have all of those things! But because there is no excuse for hatred. There is no excuse for purposefully being cruel or knowingly hurtful. There are rules in relationships. There just are. And I guess, as a rule follower type of person, I'm willing to let go of relationships that break the rules. And my rules are simple: 1) love, always, and show it with your actions 2) accept, even if you don't agree with 3) respect, always.
I haven't always been perfect at keeping those rules, myself, but I think I'm coming to a place in my life where I'm realizing that these simple things are all it takes for a successful friendship/marriage/relationship of any kind. It sure is fun to really bond with someone over your similarities, but differences are totally OK too. We need all kinds of people in the world.
Anyway, sorry for the rambling thoughts this morning. Thanks for listening. :) Here are a few more random pictures from our weekend at the ranch. Happy Wednesday!
PS - If you'd like to read more of my ramblings today, this time on what it takes to "follow your dreams," head over here. :)