God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
This has been my go-to prayer for a while now. Sometimes I will recite this simple prayer multiple times throughout the day. I start each morning and end each night with it. I’ve modified it to fit different specific situations and I’ve added to it for the same reasons, but I questioned what it truly meant to me.
I’m breaking this simple prayer down for my own benefit, and it very well could mean many different things to many different people, but maybe it is the same for you.
God, grant me serenity to accept the things I cannot change… and the courage to change the things I can…
So what is serenity anyway?
Dictionary.com defines serenity like this:
- the state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil; sereneness.
- (usually initial capital letter) a title of honor, respect, or reverence, used in speaking of or to certain members of royalty (usually preceded by his, your,etc.).
Synonyms : . composure, calm, peacefulness, peace.
Ok that doesn’t seem so hard to understand. Being calm, cool, collected and at peace about stuff. But what’s this business about doing so with things I cannot control. Those things stress me at times, just how can I be calm about them?
I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason, I always have been. I might not understand the ins and outs of why, or why now, but it’s happening because it’s meant to happen. This is God’s plan in motion for me. I don’t know what to expect or do but to take it as it comes. Accepting things as they come and waiting for His plan to unfold before me. The task of listening and waiting for those unknowns is a killer sometimes, but what choice do we really have. I can’t control people’s attitudes or certain circumstances, just like I can’t control the weather or if I’m gonna get a flat tire today or tomorrow. Rolling with the punches is a way of life, we all have to accept those things we cannot change a bit every day. Maybe the mind is a bit more open than it was yesterday. Maybe I’ve swallowed my pride just enough to grow a bit today. This is functioning. There is no harm done in reminding myself of this repeatedly. If I can’t control it, I try not to stress it. Remember, now is the best time to learn from some of those uncontrolled things.
Dictionary.com is my friend by the way… Here’s what is says about courage.
- the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc., without fear; bravery.
- Obsolete. the heart as the source of emotion.
Let’s face it we’re all built with the freedom of free will and life management. Some of us do very well for years. Some falter at a young age, some falter later in life. Some of us just downright suck at it, regardless of our age and experiences. When left to our own accord, many of us think we are making the best choices in a situation, only to find later that the choice was a huge mistake. This is human nature, don’t be discouraged. It’s normal. Face your consequences with courage and humility. You are learning from this. The lessons might not be immediate or very clear, but later you will see just what you’ve learned from this situation, this season of life. I’m finding when I give some control up on those things and people I can’t change, I am freeing myself to change and grow. This is not always an easy task. Both change and growth can take everything in me at times. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to change and grow. I’m living proof of that. So are millions of others.
So ask yourself, “What do I need to change then?”
“Everything in some way, shape or form”, was my answer to myself.
“Holy cow, I can’t do that. I’m not strong enough to change that much; I’ll lose myself if I change all that stuff.”
What dumb thinking this way.
I started small. I’m taking baby steps. Yes, this is how I am getting over my “SUPERWOMAN COMPLEX”. The changes are subtle in some cases, but it takes strength to make those little changes. Courage is something I have and didn’t really realize just how much until I tested it.
I can now let others do what they do, and understand I can’t change some things. I can’t fix that, and ya know what… that’s okay; I don’t have to. It’s not my job anyway. I can’t control others but I can change how I react or interact with them. I can still be in control of me, and respond instead of react…Sounds simple right…No so much!
This process of being all calm, cool and collected with those things and people I haven’t control over is hard work, man; but I’m finding Serenity can come from the strangest things too.
A song, a word, a sentence, a Scripture. Sunrises, cuddling under a blanket with a good book, watching the dog meticulously search the yard for the perfect spot. Listening to Jim or the boys snore in restful sleep… Some odd but just as effective. The prayer is recited, the reminder is there… “you can’t control everything, get over yourself if you think you can”
Changing our attitudes on the things we cannot change also changes our attitudes on the things we can. Wait though… I’m just one person how can I change this or that? This answer is simple… by changing myself. That I have control to do, I just have to do it. No, this is not easy. I only know a few folks that welcome change openly.
A friend recently stated, “I hate change, but I hate things staying the same too.” I thought the statement was interesting and as I looked around the room, heads were bobbing in agreeance with the heartfelt and truthful statement. I think this is human nature at its finest there. We get into routines, schedules, and even ruts. We are content in our little habits and such. We are in cruise mode, with little nutso moods added in. Yep, we get content with this, that and the other thing and miserable with other things. We don’t want to change but again we don’t want to live like that anymore. The double edged sword is very real. The baby steps help ease your way into the change or changes. The world and our lives can change daily. By facing those changes daily, we see this as being flexible, adaptable and living, right? Sure we do. Why can’t we be this way with ourselves too, then?
Well, I’m here to tell you we can be this way with ourselves too, if we are willing. Willingness is vital to lasting changes. Like I said, this is hard work, but if you break it down a bit at a time the task isn’t as hard. You will notice little things fall into place, big things don’t seem quite so big and an inner peace comes. Go with the flow for things we cannot change and work on things we can.
Acceptance to these changes you’re making and those things we cannot change is vital.
Dictionary .com comes to the rescue again, as it defines acceptance.
1.the act of taking or receiving something offered. favorable reception;approval; favor. 2. the act of assenting or believing: acceptance of a theory. 3. the factor state of being accepted or acceptable.
This too is not always easy. Many of us are nature born “fixers”. We feel the need to fix this person, or that thing. By changing our attitudes, we find sometimes we just can’t fix this, no matter how hard we try. It is really out of our control. Sure we might influence the situation or person, but fixing things normally takes much more. Fixing becomes a passion for some and they feel “less than” if they haven’t fixed something or someone each day. This thinking is detrimental to one’s health. Acceptance that we can’t fix it all is ever so important. This is where the wisdom of knowing the difference comes into play.
1.the quality or state of being wise; knowledge of what is true or right-coupled with just judgment as to action; sagacity, discernment
2. scholarly knowledge or learning:
3. wise sayings or teachings; precepts.
4.a wise act or saying.
When we willingly accept that we are not “GOD”, we can find the wisdom to know the difference in things that are within our control vs. those out of our control. This takes practice and dedication, rational thought and patience. Some of these things are learned over time, all is not lost for you or me. Everyone is capable of learning something. Give yourself a break and remember if it’s a slow process or a fast process, you are better for it.
Today as I recite the Serenity Prayer, it means more. Today, maybe it means more to you too.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.
Blessings To All