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. (The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, p. 417)
These words are perhaps the most spoken in 12 step programs. To recognize and embrace the seemingly simple concept (that acceptance is the key to freedom from compulsion) is the seed from which many crops of recovery have germinated – it allows addicts to buy in to the idea that they are not in charge of the show. If acceptance were simple, perhaps there wouldn’t be so many drunks and addicts in the world. Plainly put, if it were easy, even I would be able to do it. For me to do so, would be to give up much of the bedrock of my previous existence.
From early on, I have never believed much of what anyone told me. This started with the beginning of the end of my religious training. Back around the age of ten, a religious-school teacher taught the class the differences between theism, atheism, and agnosticism. I chose agnosticism immediately, which the teacher had defined as “a person who could believe in God if someone could prove to him that God existed.” Although not a textbook definition, it is close enough for me and, frankly, what I believe today.
Following fairly soon thereafter and coupled with this, were the words of a favorite middle-school English teacher who told us: “Question everything!” At a very simple level, she meant for us to take nothing at face value. This included what we heard on the news, read in books, or heard from our teachers. I embraced her ideology and clasped it to my bosom.
Since then, I have pretty much lived my life with the mantra in my head: “Prove it.”Better yet, I really felt that I would prefer to prove you wrong. I would not believe anything without already knowing to a certainty that it was factually correct or until after I had researched sufficiently to prove it to myself. This proclivity never endeared me to my fellows or to those in authority
There I was and here I am; not much has changed. However, through my readings, therapy, and conversations with my friends in the program, I am slowly learning to accept things at face value. I know that I cannot change people, places, and things. Through my therapist, a Eucharistic Minister, I once saw an unworldly aura that makes me hope that, perhaps, one day I may believe in God.
The AA program is about progress not perfection. I am making progress in my recovery and I will continue as long as I can remember that acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.