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. –Alcoholics Anonymous pp. 417.
Acceptance is a hard concept to understand, especially if you are newly or not yet sober. Yet, for me, acceptance is so key to my sobriety. It’s a tool in my sobriety toolbox that I use almost every day.
I think the first time I probably ever practiced the concept of acceptance is when I walked into my very first Twelve Step meeting and heard that I have the disease of addiction. It was a hard blow when I realized that, but the more and more I thought about it, the deeper I looked into the insanity of my life, it started to make sense. I didn’t know it was ‘acceptance’ at the time, but it was. Just accepting the fact that I’m powerless over my addiction when I try to do it on my own.
Acceptance wasn’t necessary when I was drinking and using. If something was disturbing or unacceptable to me, I would just run to my addiction to help numb the discomfort. And guess what? It worked! Until it stopped working anymore.
Today acceptance is useful in many areas of my life. Just not enough money at the end of the month. The dog had an accident in the house. Work sucks bad. A fellow motorist almost hit my car on the highway. Can I let it go? Can I pause and accept things for what they are? Can I turn things around and find something–anything–to be grateful for in those situations? Can I let go of the need to get angry and do something irrational? Can I move on with my day?
Another way it’s helpful is when I am disturbed, angry, or upset at the actions of others is to view them as children of God. By complaining or reacting to their behavior, I am criticizing God’s handiwork. When people mistreat me, or their actions make me upset, perhaps I can pray for a perspective change. Maybe they’re not intentionally doing it to me. And even if they are, I can pause, breath, pray for a quick second, and accept it! Acceptance in these situations means I have to open my hand and let it go. I have to quit hanging onto it. I have to drop that rock! Can I in turn treat them with respect, dignity, patience, and tolerance? Can I look for some way to serve them? Can I pray for them?
I believe that nothing happens in this world by mistake. When circumstances come at us, when things seem like they’re going to be unbearable, take hope! Remember that things will be alright. Only you can decide whether or not it’s worth risking your sobriety over. Choose life! It’s much better this way.
Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Romans 12:12 ESV
Guest columnist Garrick V. is an alcoholic. He’s also a software engineer, an avid Oklahoma State fan, and father to his daughter and two doggies. He is sinner saved by the grace of our magnificent Father.