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.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, and please share this post with others if it resonates with you!
Perfect, and exactly what I needed to be reminded of this day, and at this time. As I traverse a disruptive valley time in my life, this is exactly what I needed to start to find the calm in the midst of my storm. Thank you.
Thank you Toni. Ah, if only there weren’t disruptive valleys, eh? And ah, thank goodness I have acceptance and self-compassion when I can remember them. I wish you calm and peace. Thank you.
“I’ve now chosen to believe in goodness and in compassion and in god with a small “g” ……… allow deep in my heart.”
The above para in your blog meant a lot to me today. I was always puzzled by the God of my childhood..threatening with punishment and lightning bolts…i was afraid to utter the word “God”…..but your definition of “god” is so good. I think i will use that
Thank you for your comment. I am so glad that my definition of god works for you as well. It is how I’ve managed to allow more hope and “love of the universe” not my life. My god is love. I hope it continues to work for you as well.
The God with a capital G is a God most people do not understand. The small “g” God is the one we use to find self righteousness. Forgive me for the explanation. This is an awesome post about acceptance that I refer many of my friends and colleagues to. The God idea was because we generally want to be self maintained through an easier way of life
Thank you Ralph for your thoughts. I don’t know that I fully understand the small “g” for god being about self-righteousness, but I’m sitting with it. 🙂 I am so chuffed to hear that my post on acceptance is helpful for you (and your friends and colleagues). Thank you for joining in the conversation.
Oh God, I am not sure how to start this response as I very well know exactly how it made me feel back when. But being that I have regained my mind, and my ability to made better decisions for the better. I understand many more things in life than I ever had.
I hope that we all can reflect and scrutinize with an open mind. Being the fact that we should make all decisions for the better for all. That there are those who will relentlessly continue to direct and control others. The Essence of Growth has shown me that we need to be here for one another for the better of all.
I cried like a baby over and over again when reading that in 1985 in Rehab. Today my Recovery has taken a new direction as I am able to focus and see the indifference of Justice in our society.
If no one every takes a stand, then there will be no one to make a difference in making our paths better journey. The Jews and American Indians would definitely reject your statement of Acceptance is the answer to all my problems.
It’s just like AA, they haven’t and will not do anything to change their more in their view even though Bill W. Wrote articles of Niacin Therapy in Recovery.
No doubt I feel that the AMA had stepped in and redirected the steps of Recovery just as the FDA banned Laetrile (B-17) in 1963 which stops the spread of me at Cancer’s.
But it is extremely hard to fight government as they have all power in the Justice System. And the truths in the percentage of Success in Recovery falls very short of what a businessman would call successful. Corporations in no way keep doors open with a mere 7-8% success rate.
I ask that we all try and make this world a better place for us all to live in helping one another.
Essence of Growth
“Let us never fear needed change. Certainly we have to discriminate between changes for worse and changes for better. But once a need becomes clearly apparent in an individual, in a group, or in A.A. as a whole, it has long since been found out that we cannot stand still and look the other way.
“The essence of all growth is willingness to change for the better and then an unremitting willingness to shoulder whatever responsibility this entails.”
-Grapevine July 1965
Thank you thank you thank you Leslie. I wholeheartedly agree. Acceptance and working, fighting, and taking a stand for social justice are one of the dichotomies I hold. For my life, I have to accept and allow. For the world, I have to take a stand. Thank you.
Here’s what came to my mind
No one helps a caterpillar .
become a butterfly. First it must crawl through the leaves as a many legged creature, and then it weaves its own cocoon. Nature does its slow, daily work inside the cocoon and one day a butterfly emerges and each butterfly is a different shape and color. No other creature can step in and speed up this process without hurting the butterfly. Sometimes we humans confuse love with playing the part of God. We think we can speed up the natural growth of people around us. We interfere by telling them to do what we think best. Sometimes the greatest love we can offer is to accept our loved ones the way they are. We need to remember that each caterpillar weaves a cocoon in its own time and becomes a butterfly in its own way. The wisdom of the universe is greater than our own.
Thank you Pham! Wow. This is so true and so wonderful for me to read and remember. I remember when I first crawled into Al-Anon and I realized that if I was exactly where I was supposed to be, everyone else was exactly where they were supposed to be as well. And that I therefore probably needed to let them be. Thank you for the reminder.