“And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.….nothing happens in God’s world by mistake” (page 417, 4th Edition Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous).
Many people confuse acceptance with resignation. Resignation is like an “oh well” attitude while acceptance is an understanding of a person, place or thing. When a situation occurs that we perceive to be adverse we have to ask ourselves “what am I to learn here?” Resignation just throws in the towel and usually becomes a resentment.
Certainly, some things are not easy to accept such as war, death or famine. These things happen in humankind’s world. The acceptance we are talking about here happens in God’s world. In sobriety we learn to use acceptance to the best of our ability. A situation may arise which we find objectionable. We then look at the situation from a different angle to gain a deeper understanding of what is going on. If we decide we can do something about the situation, we do it. If there is nothing, we can do; we leave it alone. If it is something in us that is needed to be changed? If so, we set about inventorying what this is and proceed to make the change asking for God’s help to do so.
Sometimes we are faced with difficult people. This can be a co-worker, loved one, spouse, boss, acquaintance, etc. This person just puts us in a bad mood or hurts our feelings continuously. We have to learn that we cannot change people, places or things. We can only change ourselves and our reactions to people, places or things. It is at this point that we may experience a degree of acceptance of the person who is causing us the discomfort. The 12 Step program suggests that we pray for these people. This may seem like a foolish notion but it works. I had a landlord who was constantly nit picking my behavior. He even complained about the way I put my trash in the dumpster!
Mind you I was never a day late with the rent, had wild parties or made a lot of noise. So, I started praying for him to be happy. Well, lo and behold something in my home broke and I had to call him to have it fixed. I dreaded this like the plague. I didn’t call him for three days and was prepared to be blamed for this item breaking. Finally, when I did call him, he was as nice as could be and stated that these things break all the time. Needless to say, I was in shock at his change of attitude towards me. Looks like those prayers helped.
Learning what to accept in a situation can seem like a daunting task. Possibly there are some people that I choose to not have in my life due to our differences. It is my right to not be in this relationship with this person any longer. Politics can be particularly polarizing and I had to let go of a few friends in recent years due to different political ideology. Acceptance gives me choices about what I will allow or not allow into my life. If I see a person, place or thing as toxic to my well-being I can choose to stay away from it. This may take a bit of discernment on my part to look at a situation and see what is really going on. I have choices today and the tools with which to make them. And for this I am very grateful.