Growing up I heard the serenity prayer many times. I saw it posted on placards and posters and pictures in people’s homes. I thought I knew it.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.
I think that’s how most people learned it. While it is a wonderful sentiment and beautiful prayer, until a few years ago, I never knew there was more. Often times we pick and choose parts of a whole text to convey the message we wish to share. Sometimes it’s enough. Sometimes it’s not.
During those moments when I feel most lost, most distressed, most saddened by life’s circumstances, that’s when I choose to remember the ENTIRE serenity prayer.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardships as the pathway to peace. Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it. Trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His will. That I may be reasonably happy in this life, and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen
The part that really gets me is “taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it”. This is where my peace and happiness comes from. I find it necessary to remind myself to be grateful for all the many blessings I have been given. When I choose to focus on all the good parts of life and accept the hardships for what they are, the good always outweighs the bad. When I choose to take my hardships and hand them over to God, the burden lifted from my mind can honestly be felt on a physical level.
I have to wonder why, when I know these things to be true, I still have to consciously remind myself? I think it’s human nature to try to handle everything ourselves. We hesitate to ask for help. We resist vulnerability. All the while, we let ourselves suffer physically and mentally until we are completely broken.
When I was in college (a long, long time ago) we studied the stages of grief. Working in healthcare, it’s important to be able to understand the grieving process that a patient and/or their families may be going through. I’ve found this information to be helpful in life for far more than dealing with my patients. We grieve for far more than our health. I recognized the stages through my divorce, through financial struggles, and definitely through watching my children suffer with addiction. The last stage, the one that brings peace back into life, is the stage of acceptance. I think we spend so much time trying to control the horrible situation that we can’t find time to heal from it. Once we accept our place, wherever it may be, we can start to move forward again. It’s like step 1 of AA. We have to admit we have a problem that we are powerless to control. Once we’ve accepted that situation, we can begin the healing process.
I understand that many of my readers may not have the same Christian faith as I do. Even if you don’t share my faith, I hope you’re able to take something from this anyway. If you’re not able to turn to God (as I do), I hope you’re still able to recognize the peace that comes with relenquishing control. Understanding that sometimes life just happens around us and that it’s not within our control to fix it, can help us to let go of the feeling of responsibility. Accepting that hardships are part of life and choosing to be grateful for all the good that comes with them can bring peace to your soul.
Peace and serenity are one of my most treasured blessings.