Are you like me? Sometimes you make plans and things all fall into place, and other times, well, everything goes sideways? Program people like to say “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans”. I hate that saying. It implies we have no control of our destiny.
When you think about it, we do have control…except when we don’t. Or is it “and accept when we don’t”. For me, it has to be both.
I have to try to remember every day that control is an illusion. Or at the very least a blurry plan that does not account for all the counteractions going on in the vicinity of my plan.
So much of my life as a sober woman comes down to doing what I can–doing the next indicated thing–and having faith that it’s actually going to be “right”. And while the Serenity Prayer has its applications in a lot of cases, a friend recently told me, and I quote: “I still suck at accepting the things I can’t change”.
The wisdom of a long-timer. Gotta love that shit.
The unabridged version of the Serenity Prayer brings the concept of God heavily into the mix. For obvious reasons, that’s hard to swallow for a lot of folk, alcoholics, chief among them. Is it any wonder these four lines, more like a to-do list, and more easily memorized, are what resonates and was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous?
For me, too. So…
I think I’ve settled on this: It’s not about acceptance, it’s about self-management. Managing my expectations, limitations, responses, and actions. That’s it. I can’t control anything else; anything outside of myself. Oh, if I only could! Just for a day, right?
One of my favorite excerpt from the Big Book speaks to me much louder than the Serenity Prayer.
“When I stopped living in the problem and began living in the answer, the problem went away. From that moment on, I have not had a single compulsion to drink.
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. 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 attitude.”
(Alcoholics Anonymous, 4th Edition, P. 417)
So like our friend, Phil, we do what we can to improve our situation. We keep doing the next indicated thing, keeping in mind that we might not be able to change people, places, and things –like moving the ground closer to Phil. But we can reverse course, improvise, or adapt.
Oh yeah. And here’s the punch line: Don’t do that again.