One of my most challenging, but deeply meaningful, prayers in AA comes from the 3rd edition of the Big Book on page 449 (or Page 417 in the 4th edition).
“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. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and my attitudes.”
This is a profound prayer with deep meaning and insight. Most of my life I spent trying to change everything and everyone around me to make me happier. It never worked. There are infinite situations that will continue to happen around me and within me, that I cannot fix them all, if any of them really. I used to point the finger at everybody and everything saying that my life was bad because of them. What I never realized is that I didn’t accept any of it both outside of myself and within myself. Truthfully, I never sat still long enough to see this.
Lately, I’ve come to greater acceptance of people and things that go on around me. This came through the realization that I needed to accept those people as they were. Most of the time I prayed about them, and sent them happiness, love, and light when I found myself getting angry or irritated by someone or something that happened. Ironically, it has continued to work and I have been living a much more peace filled life at least in regards to the world going on around me.
The one challenge I still do face though when it comes to acceptance is my current state of health. Having temporary chronic pain in my life that has kept me reserved on so many levels continues to thwart my attempts at acceptance of life on life’s terms. Being unable to do sports, run, jog, or take part in any kind of physical activity that might cause me to break out in a good sweat is next to impossible right now for me. The memories of my life prior to these past few years where I was extremely physically active seem blurry now. I live with hope everyday in God’s healing hands with this but acceptance of it right here, right now, is extremely difficult. I spend most days praying for acceptance of it and sometimes even praying for accepting acceptance itself.
What I love best about this AA prayer is that if I take it literally that nothing happens in God’s world by mistake, then I am meant to be in this place right now in my life enduring this pain. I am not all seeing and all knowing. I don’t know why this has lasted so long. I don’t know why the process of healing from the previous toxic things in my life has been taking so much time. But this simple prayer has a deep truth to it. So I’ve been praying on changing my attitude towards it and just accepting it as best as I can that I am exactly where I’m meant to be right now.
Who knows? Maybe if these pains were all gone right now, that there is still some area within me that might drive me back out to my old unhealthy ways. Or maybe, I am meant to endure this awhile longer so that one day when it’s gone I may help another going through the same thing. For whatever reasons it may be, I am going to do my best to continue to pray for acceptance of how it is, trusting that God is guiding me, healing me as He sees fit, and that relief is on the horizon.
Peace, love, light, and joy,
Andrew Arthur Dawson