Many, many years ago, when I was at an all-time low, someone shared with me page 449 of the Alcoholics Anonymous “big book.” “Read it,” they said. “Read it and reread it and reread it and remember it.”
It reads like this:
“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation – some fact of my life – unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake.”
I wasn’t in AA, so it wasn’t my alcoholism that I was accepting, but still this paragraph applied to me. It saved me from the hell of a life I was in at the time. It still applies to me and, at times, still saves my day and my mood. Because I can fight against things and people and try to change things and people, but fighting doesn’t work and I really don’t have the power to change anything but myself. Even that is iffy at times. When I accept things as they are and I stop fighting them, life is easier.
Now, some people may stumble over the word “God” on page 449. That was never my problem. But I stumble over the capital G in the word “God,” because God calls to mind the God of my childhood, and I don’t want or choose to believe in that God anymore. I have defined my own way to believe. As I share in Way Out:
“I’ve now chosen to believe in goodness and in compassion and in god with a small “g” – with an intentional use of a small “g” to differentiate the god I know and firmly believe in now from the God with a capital “G” with whom I was raised, who rules and judges and demands. god with a small “g” is love, life, and goodness and flows in me and through me. God with a capital “G” has too many hang-ups, or causes too many hang-ups, for me to allow deep in my heart.”
But either way, God or god, God or no God, acceptance is still the answer to all my problems. Who knew that AA was about mindfulness and allowing what is? I didn’t at the time. I just knew that I felt better when I stopped fighting useless battles, and the only way to stop fighting useless battles was to accept things as they were.
There are absolutely situations that I want to change, but all I can change is myself and my reaction. I’ve got something going on right now that I definitely wish were different. I suppose I could find a few things that I wished were different. But these situations are as they are. There’s not much I can do about them except to do what I can, do what’s right in front of me, and let go of changing the situation overall, for now at least. And when I stop trying so hard to make things happen, I relax and feel better. There are absolutely people I wish were different, but they are out of my control. What I can control is my own behavior – how and when I interact with them, if I even see them. I wish my dad were different – easier to be around – but when I hate how he is I can’t comfortably be with him, and when I accept him as he is it’s easier. I find more compassion and even enjoyment of his company.
Acceptance is the answer to all my problems. I first heard that nearly thirty years ago (that in and of itself is something to accept!) and I could use to hear it again. And again. And again.
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