And acceptance is NOT the answer to all my problems today.

June 15, 2010

I am going to take a position here.  I so often hear the above quote (pre-modification) taken to what I feel is an extreme.  I don’t know, nor will any of us know, the full context of what the author meant and felt when he wrote this. 

For me, acceptance is NOT the answer to all of my problems today.  Acceptance is, however, extremely helpful in most situations and helps me remain sane and functioning so I can find the answers.  But acceptance is not my source.  I do not place my reliance on acceptance.  Acceptance is not God and page 449 (or 417 of the newer edition) of the big book is not holy text.

This quote is merely the experience and observation of just another fellow journeyor on the pathway of recovery.  Most certainly, it is a valuable one and worthy of sharing.  And certainly has tremendous practical application to us alcoholics given the way we broadly tend to try to control circumstances in our lives.

To me, acceptance is but a principle that God has shown me.  God is the answer to all of my problems today.  I need to connect with him more than I need to connect with acceptance.   God will use what he chooses to get me through what I need to get through.  In some cases, it may include acceptance.  In other cases, it may mean taking a stand and not accepting what is happening.

I will not accept mistreatment of my wife or kids.  Nor will I accept being tempted by drugs, alcohol, infidelity, or untruthfulness.

Perhaps these were not the intents of the author.  We will never know.  But for me, I can’t quite give this simple wise quote the deification I often hear others giving it. 





  1. For me, acceptance is different from subservience. If someone mistreats my family, today I can accept the mistreatment for what it is, rather than wishing it away or pointlessly spinning my wheels in resentment, plans for revenge, etc. Then I can more clearly see what options I have to change the situation. I agree that p. 417 in the big book (or p. 90 in the 12×12, for that matter) is not holy writ. I’m grateful that we have text books, not scripture.

    • Thanks CI… I suppose my point was twofold:

      1: I tire of the universal projection of the simple momentary personal discoveries and conclusions of ordinary people on ordinary journies.

      2: I suppose I have seen acceptance used as an excuse for inaction. If someone mistreats my family, I can respond with defence and protection, which may require violence that is not vengeful or angry. Call is peacekeeping or necessary force.

      I can accept that an event has happened, even if someone I love and am responsible is harmed. But acceptance will not stop me from mitigating harm and preventing further harm by whatever means necessary.

      3: (ok, I know I only said 2) I feel there are so much greater, grander, broader principles than acceptance. Acceptance is but a mere component of the answer to all of my problems.

      Thanks for reply.



  2. We do need to connect with God more.

    I believe when we connect with God we connect ourselves and then we know how to connect with others and they then connect with us.

    In all we do seek joy for I believe joy is the God’s anointing. God gets joy when we connect to universal principles that He put in place for our edification and joy.

    Thanks for your post,


    • Love this post. you are so right. Once again I can totally relate. Good stuff.

      • Thanks Jo!

    • Thanks Dale.

  3. well put 🙂

  4. I agree. Reading this prompted me to write my post on Acceptance. Let me know what you think.
    I’ve added you to my blogroll.

    • Will do.

  5. Hi,

    I often here this quote bandied about the rooms – I used to do so myself. I agree with you: acceptance is not always the answser. Sometimes change is the answer.

    Another part of this paragraph say “nothing happens in God’s world by mistake”

    The conclusion that I draw from that is, if it does not happen by mistake then it must happen by intention. Therefore according to the author of the paragraph, it was God’s intention that I be alcoholic, depressive, divorced, physically disabled and as a result of these things, isolated even within AA. God’s intention? Surely not. Just a mistake? Hang on, God doesn’t make mistakes, does he?

    If I took acceptance as my answer to all my problems then I would have been dead many years ago. Sometimes, you have to be a fighter to survive!

    Kind regards,
    Jennifer M. AA Member, 4.5 years sober

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences Jennifer! Glad you are sober and recovering.

      Yes, agreed. We do not know whether or not things are or aren’t mistakes in God’s world… who knows if we ever will.

      I take this writing as nothing more nor less than the perception of another person no different than you or I who saw his experiences and life a certain way.

      Just because his words are often quoted and recorded in the AA literature, does not make them any more valid than the last or next words any of us hear across the podium or table at the last or next AA meeting we go to.

      Many AAs appear to have lost sight of the “experience, strength, and hope” thing. That is all the words of any fellow AA are. They are not holy or universal text. They are opinions and outlooks of everyday alcoholic like you, me, and those we know.

      With that said, I find them to be many EXTREMELY relevant and useful opinions and outlooks that to me, point clearly in the direction of truth, but again, that is my opinion and outlook and I bear no greater claim on the truth than the next or last person.

      Thanks for adding the the discussion.



  6. Chaz, I posted my thougts on this subject today and at the end offered a link to your site. I think you are a great writer and I like how you think.
    Good journey, Nanc

    • Thanks Nanc…. will check out your post. Thanks for your kind words. I am always pleased to know my shared experiences have value to others.



  7. Thanks – I’ve been trying to refute this being used as a “cover-all” to justify just about everything! alas I’ll never get “my way” and besides it’s probably off a little too.
    David 11/11/81

    • Hi David…. sorry for late reply… I have not been current with this blog since 2010… new blog onedirectionforward.wordpress.com

      Interesting to see how many have experienced the idolization of this saying. It is not in my experience a cover-all. And I have seen nothing to suggest that the author meant it to be gospel for everyone in all circumstances.

      I take it as a personal observation of his that he discovered in his own life in the context of the circumstances he was in at that time.

      But humanity and recoverydom, desperate for answers and eager for idols to follow, appear to have deify the author and paragraph.

      Oh well. Not the first and wont be the last time this happens. I just felt compelled to express my take.



  8. I agree also. It’s good to remember that acceptance is only one part of the three part serenity prayer. If you only have one tool in your toolbox, your not going to be a very skilled builder.

    • Great point Dave. Interesting how others see the incompleteness of the notion of acceptance being the total answer. Great point about how it is only a fraction of the serenity prayer. Again, my point here is not to be argumentative with the author, but to challenge the degree to which this comment/observation/experience of this one recovering alcoholic decades ago has been morphed into something resembling holy scripture. How do we know that this was not simply a light that had come on for this guy at this time which prompted him to write with such emphasis? We don’t and probably never will.

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting. I am not by this blog frequently. I have a new blog at onedirectionforward.wordpress.com



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