Welcome To My Self-Help Blog Friends,
Thoughts behind the Serenity Prayer have been around for centuries but, according to Wikipedia, the actual prayer as we know it was authored by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) for sermons at Heath Evangelical Union Church in Heath, Massachusetts, and was first published in 1951 in a magazine column. The prayer spread through Niebuhr’s sermons and church groups in the 1930s and 1940s, and was later adopted by Alcoholics anonymous and other twelve-step programs.
The prayer has appeared in many versions, and the best-known form with 3 lines is today found in many homes, including mine. Its meaning is profound when examined with the mind and heart. But its words are simple, and it’s so familiar, we take it for granted. I doubt that many could explain its meaning in depth unless they knew it first hand as a source of hope and guidance in addiction recovery work. And unless someone is involved in this type of life-changing experience, the value of this meaningful prayer oftentimes is not being used.
How many times have you read the words in the Serenity Prayer and not related them to your own life? Are they just words, or could they have an important influence on the quality of your life? What does acceptance mean, and how is that done? What is courage, and where do we find it? What is wisdom, and how do we get it?
“The real peace of mind is accepting reality as it is.” ~ Swami Premodaye
Acceptance: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
The first line of the prayer implies that serenity is needed to accept what you can’t change. Acceptance doesn’t mean it’s okay if you lose your job, you experience illness, you lose a loved one, your car breaks down, a storm blows the roof off your house, whatever the situation. That is the pain of human life, and it’s not okay that it happened or is happening. But you must accept that it exists, and you can’t change it. It doesn’t mean you won’t suffer, but rather than stew, fret, stress over it … Let it be. Be willing to assume a more calm, peaceful mind and heart to accept the reality of it and respond with the strength you need to survive, and not let it destroy you.
“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.” ~Andre Gide
Courage: Courage to change the things I can.
You were born with all the courage you need. Your courage just gets lost sometimes behind a fear of the unknown or in the false belief that you lack the ability to create change. But as you focus less on what you can’t change and increase focus on what you can, your confidence … courage … will increase. So when there’s something that you can and want to change, then assume a calm, serene mind and heart attitude toward whatever’s holding you back, and respond with your courage in spite of it. John Wayne said, “Courage is being scared to death … but saddling up anyway.”
Sometimes the status quo may feel safer, but how would it feel to spend the rest of your life watching ships pass you by and leave you standing on the shore in your own prison of fear? Think on that and heed the prayer for courage to change the things you can. Because you can.
Wisdom: And wisdom to know the difference.
Your life belongs to you. You have the power to accept what you cannot change and the power to change what you can. And wisdom is the ability to know and
understand what you’re dealing with and to act accordingly.
It’s been said that experience is the best teacher, and I think that’s pretty true. So pay attention, and don’t take your good times lightly or curse your suffering. Great lessons are learned from some of our best and worst times. And this teaches us to know the difference between what we cannot change and what we can. Read the Serenity Prayer thoughtfully in relation to your own life. Read it everyday. There’s much wisdom here with opportunity to expand your life in wondrous ways.
Much of what I’ve written in this article is from my own observations with the Serenity Prayer. I hope you find some of them useful, and that your life is enriched with some of your own.
I wish you happiness as you create what you want in your life.
Marilyn Fowler, Author/Writer of
“Silent Echoes & Me and Granmama In The Hill Country”