This is Day 8 of our 31 Days of Less and More series. To read all the posts in order, start with Day 1 and check out our overview page to see the topics for the entire month.


“Life is bristling with thorns, and I know no other remedy than to cultivate one’s garden.”
― Voltaire

Acceptance is a funny thing.  We all crave it from each other but we often don’t easily give it to each other. What we find easy to do is judge, find fault, and exclude. But do you have any idea what a beautiful gift it is to welcome someone, with open arms, into your circle;  to accept them wholeheartedly into your life?  We all know what it’s like to be excluded, to be judged and found wanting;  but the joy of true acceptance is something we all remember with fondness.

I have two 7th graders that just went back to *real* school, after being homeschooled for five years.  I know they’re mine and I’m probably a teeny bit prejudiced, but I think they are completely adorable. They’re cute, bright, talented, sweet, quick to apologize, and easy to please.  I wasn’t really too worried about them fitting in.  But, they were.  Because fitting in is the craving of our hearts.  We want to be seen and known and loved.  I coached them over and over to not worry so much about whether they are being accepted, but to make sure they are accepting others into their lives.  Don’t wait to be taken in to someone else’s circle.  Take someone into yours.

Groups of people form naturally by the likes and interests of the people involved.  But lurking closely is temptation to what C.S. Lewis, in his book The Weight of Glory  calls the ‘inner ring’.   And we often perceive that we are somehow just ‘outside’ it.   You know the ‘inner ring’ well from high school;  the group of girls that are inseparable and exist for the sole purpose of excluding everyone else from their circle.   The group is usually not a natural, organic group that forges easily because of the like interests shared by the parties.   It’s a group that has the appearance of  including the ‘important people’ or the ‘people in the know’.   And the basis for its existence is exclusion.  

The allure for the inner ring only works if there’s an imaginary line of admittance which is guarded tightly by those already inside, with very arbitrary rules about who gets in. Over the years, as I’ve studied people and read a lot, I’ve come to certain sympathy for the excluders or the mean girls as we call them.  Without knowing it, we’ve all been mean girls from time to time.  And more often than not, it’s insecurity that fuels their behavior.  And we  are all at times  selfish, prejudice, insecure, arrogant, and afraid.

But here’s one thing that is true.  You can spend your whole life hiding inside your exclusive inner ring and you may  never know the joy of true relationship. Opening yourself to others is dangerous. Accepting others into your life and heart can be risky business.  But, your willingness to be alive and vulnerable and accepting will change your life and theirs.

Stop waiting for those certain people to make you part of their group.  Plant your own beautiful garden—and tend it well.

When you extend your heart to someone in love and acceptance, you are offering life to them, in world hell bent on hate and judgement.

You are cultivating something in your life either way—it might as well be roses.

Day 8:  Think of someone you have been unfairly critical of or judgemental towards.  What assumptions did you make about them and their situation.  Now,  think of a time when someone has judged you unfairly or given you the benefit of the doubt.  How did you feel?  What is something  you could do today to show compassion to someone in your life.


Be sure to read Ruth’s corresponding post, Less Judgement.

Are you often critical and judgemental of others?  When the first critical thought enters your mind today, stop yourself and give that person the benefit of the doubt. 

What kind of garden are you cultivating?

12 comments on “31 Days of Less and More, Day 8 {More Acceptance}”

  1. The inner ring-it is where we all strive to be, but we should all be opening ourselves up to others, not closing ourselves off. It’s a struggle. Our flesh wants to be part of a closed off group, to feel special, but in reality, it is when we open ourselves up to others that we truly feel special.
    Thank you for this challenge.

  2. Love, Love, Love this More and Less series…. It is weird how I thought once we got out of high school all this would be left behind. Love the advice you give to your girls. My dad always told us to “Choose your friends, don’t let them choose you”. My girls are still very young, but I pray that they would be blessed with a strong sense of self, love for others, and a good group of friends (I need to throw my name in with theirs as well:)

  3. I’m new to your blog so haven’t read that many posts but I have to tell you that this may be my favorite post written on a blog. This is one I will share with both of my kids–boy, 15 and girl, 7. Thanks for doing this series, I really love reading posts that make me think (and I still love fun design and recipe posts too!).

  4. even as I attend my 30th high school reunion this weekend, i don’t think you really forget those in the “inner circles”…. Beautiful truths spoken! Thank you Edie!

  5. Is there ANY chance that you & Ruth will make this into a book? I would love to have both days for the month in one book-
    Every day seems to be hitting home-
    And thank goodness those high school days & “inner-cicles” there are over-
    Thank you both so much-

  6. My daughter and I were having a conversation on this very subject last week….she is in her 30’s and finding that what she looks for in a friendship is changing. Sometimes we cling to unhealthy relationships out of habit and need to prune our garden. This may sound different than cultivating, but both are needed to make a beautiful garden. I treasure my dear friends , they probably would not have been who I would have picked at 16, but I am so blessed to have these women in my life…some for over 40 years. I love this quote by Voltaire

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