Community: An Environment of Acceptance
Jack & Karen Baker
and Fr. Dennis Koopman, OFM
A look at WWME Community
Where two or more are gathered…
(second in a series of five articles - click
here for the series index)
Who Are WE?, we shared an article with you regarding
four ways WWME Communities provide ongoing support. They are:
· An environment of acceptance
· Focus on priority of spousal relationship
· Help with discernment of gifts
· Facilitating the Weekend
In this article, we would like to continue the discussion on support
for the WWME Community by sharing our thoughts on the first area
of an accepting environment.
For some, an environment of acceptance began with the call on the
Weekend for unconditional love. It is the way we love our spouse
just the way they are. To love them even with their flaws and faults.
It is to love them in sickness and health, in good times and in
bad. The same holds true for our WWME Communities. It is no coincidence
that the WWME Vision is the Great Commandment that Jesus gave to
us: to “Love one another as I have loved you”. To love
another is to accept them. We can best nourish the couples, priests
and religious in our communities when we set aside our own agendas,
open our arms to embrace them, our hearts to accept them and take
the time to show that we care about them. In acceptance, we all
are given support and hope to face change in our lives. Through
acceptance of one another, we become a stronger, more vibrant and
inviting Community. Acceptance is life giving. Criticism destroys.
For me (Karen) acceptance gives my self-worth a lift. It affirms
me as a child of God, a wife, a mother and a participant in our
WWME Community. It gives me strength and hope to grow and stretch
beyond my self-imposed limitations so I can be more for Jack and
For me (Jack) acceptance is a daily decision. I was raised in a
family where love was conditional. Acceptance was based on what
you did, not who you were. It continues to be a challenge for me
to love myself, or others, as human beings rather than human doings.
When I receive unconditional acceptance, my first reaction is skepticism.
I wonder what I did or what is wanted of me. When I let go of my
past, I thank God, Karen, and Marriage Encounter for the gift of
unconditional acceptance simply because I am a child of God.
For me (Fr. Dennis) I remember how my parents and my aunts and
uncles, and my teachers complimented me on what I accomplished.
My experiences in the Marriage Encounter family is that of feeling
at ease when I share something with the group on where I messed
up. Even when I share my poorly hidden attempts at perfectionism,
I feel warmth and affection from others. Other people’s acceptance
of me for who I am is slowly removing my fears of doing a poor performance.
My new relaxed attitude of growing in acceptance of myself is bringing
better outcomes in my new projects. I definitely need to continue
to experience the acceptance from my Marriage Encounter family if
I am to continue to grow in my abilities overall.
We ask you to think of your last Community gathering. What were
your thoughts and attitudes surrounding that gathering? Were you
supporting and accepting while you were with your companions on
your journey, and then critical of them on your way home? It is
so easy to slip into that pattern. To be the best couple that you
can be and in turn to be the best Community you can be, we encourage
you to become aware of your actions and words as you support one
another in your continued quest for acceptance of one another. To
further explore the area of acceptance, here are some dialogue questions
· What are my feelings when I hear God created each of us
· Acceptance involves a decision to love. HDIFAT?
· The Sharing Guidelines used at WWME gatherings help us
accept one another. Which guideline is the most difficult for me
to follow? HDIFSTWY?
This article was originally printed in the Winter
2001 Matrimony Magazine and has been edited for posting
Our Spousal Relationship a Priority
here for a printable page (PDF, 69KB)