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Grant me serenity

March 9th, 2005 · No Comments


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.

- Serenity Prayer

As a child I would see this serenity prayer engraved on plaques and hung in homes, not at ours, but at others. It seemed a strange prayer to me, a weak one, one that didn’t fit with the way I thought the world or God worked. Accept the things I cannot change? Wasn’t that wimping out on trying to change things? Why can’t everything be fixed or healed? Accept that things can’t be changed?! Courage? Who needs courage? Only those who are afraid. Not me. Difference? What difference?

I didn’t believe in a world where there was a difference, where there were things I could change and things I couldn’t. What couldn’t be accomplished, given truth, zeal and passionate people: so read the summary of my college years philosophy. Even in my childhood, I believed that if I prayed or served God or was good enough, I could help change things. If I prayed enough times and in the right way God listen and change it. He doesn’t have a difference; there’s nothing he can’t do. This was the way I thought the world worked.

In the past year I’ve been forced to face what I can’t change. I’ve grieved what has gone from my life. This heaviness manifested itself in many tears and sleepless nights. It became my inner iron maiden.

Inside I’ve blamed myself. I must not have prayed the right way or the right times, said what I should have said. I believed I must be responsible for these losses in my life. It was my fault things had broken and it was up to me somehow to try to fix it again. Movies from my memories played in my mind, as I analyzed the scenes, wondering what words should have been spoken, scrambling to re-write the script.

However I also felt as I were running a marathon race and hitting a brick wall. Or falling off a brick wall. I had tried everything I could but like Humpty Dumpty’s physicians the broken pieces remained. What else could I do?

I am realizing I am powerless to change these situations. And to some extent perhaps God is too, subject to the laws he has made for his people. We humans have choice and no one can take that choice from us.

This spring, as I have come to accept the things I cannot change, I’ve discovered peace. Serenity. Sweet and bright, light and hopeful, like the crocus and the sunshine I can see.

Perhaps it does take courage and wisdom to know our own limits. Perhaps we have to be brave to accept our inabilities. Perhaps it takes maturity to find serenity.

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Tags: faith · journal

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