The Serenity Prayer – “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.”
The first request is for God to grant us the serenity to accept the things that we cannot change. The key words are serenity and accept. Their has been many times, in life, that I have been forced to accept something that I could not change, and I can guarantee you there was no serenity involved. For me, being forced to accept something I could not change, without serenity, filled me with, either anger and a king size resentment, or with defeat and pity.
When I have been forced to accept without serenity my mind was filled with hours and hours of thoughts on how I was going to overcome and become victorious, or how I was going to get even, or I wallowed on my pity pot and became the world’s great tragedy queen. It was like I had a giant X on my forehead that marked me as a victim.
That part of that prayer used to tick me off. What I heard is that I was supposed to walk around happy as a lark and they were going to get away with hurting me. I told my sponsor that I was angry because this meant that I did not have a choice. She reminded me that I did have a choice. Acceptance was not approval. It was making the best of a bad situation. This is the way that it is and there is not a darn thing I can do about it. I could learn how to have peace and be happy or I could stay miserable the choice was mine. I could allow this situation to continue to hurt me over and over again or I could take control of my life back. She told me that as long as I had the ugly negative feelings that I had, that I was handing over control of my life to someone else.
Then came the hard part. Well, it was hard for me anyway. How in the heck to get serenity over something is unacceptable to you and you are powerless over. It is not like I said this prayer and God sprinkled Angel dust over me and all of a sudden I had visions of rainbows and lollypops. No, it was nothing so simple as that. It wasn’t just one thing that helped me achieve serenity. It was a series of steps that healed my heart.
One important thing was understanding what I did have power over. I have power over is me. The second part of the prayer says to “have the courage to change the things I can.” I can change me and I can change my attitude. I can choose the kind of person that I want to be but I cannot choose to force those standards on someone else. I can choose to be a loose cannon and react to everything in my life, or I can take control and decide for myself how I am going to respond to life’s ups and downs. Instead of being so focused on me and my problems, I can get out of myself and help others in need. It is being grateful for the good things I do have and not focusing on the things I don’t have. It is doing the next right thing and it is not planning and scheming how I am going to win or get even.
Forgiveness, without a doubt, is a key component in finding serenity. It took a while for me to understand that forgiveness did not mean that what happened was okay. It did not necessarily fix the wrong, it did not mean that we had to be friends or that I even had to have the that person in my life. It means that even though you hurt me in the past you are not allowed to hurt me for the rest of my life.
Finding serenity was an evolutionary process for me. It was a process of learning about myself. It learning how to set health boundaries in my life. It was liberating and empowering.