Taking each part of the acceptance passage one piece at a time.
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.
I believe that when I am disturbed, it is because there is something wrong with me. I believe that I can’t have serenity until I accept the person, place or thing exactly the way it IS – not, that it is exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment, but that it IS this way at this moment.
I don’t think that starving children (to reach for an extreme example) are SUPPOSED to be starving. I understand that they ARE starving, and I won’t have serenity if I don’t accept it. Well, some things, maybe, we are not SUPPOSED to be serene with. I don’t like the path of “supposed to be.” That leads me to the assumption that I am NOT supposed to be starving right now. I do not believe that God arranged their poverty and my over-abundance.
So, I have to accept that things are the way they are, I agree with that. Next, I need to accept the things I cannot change. As for the things I can change (it is within my power to send food to people who need it right now), I have to make choices about what I do, what I act on, and how I feel about those things.
I sort of wish I believed that “nothing happens by mistake” or that things are the way they are “meant” to be. I seems simplistic and, in a way, easy. But I don’t believe it. So I’m left with deciding what I can work on, and what I can change, and honestly that generally leaves me with a feeling of not doing enough for other people.
That issue aside, and extreme examples aside, in my day-to-day life I like to think of acceptance as more of an open-minded mental stance. Some other people are bad drivers, and I have to share the road with them. I can fume and feel angry and superior, or glad that I haven’t had an accident because of them. People will never drive to my standards. I read a survey of people who tailgate, and the number one answer to the question of “why do you do that?” was “because I think I’ll be able to stop in time.” This makes no sense to me. I’m right (leave room, just in case!), they are wrong. I’ll meet some of them on the road if I choose to drive. I’ll accept that some people drive that way if I have to have serenity. If I’m disturbed by them, it’s because I’m not accepting reality, and reality is not going to change, so I better change my mind instead.