This invitation to serenity and deeper peace is familiar to many of us… "God grant me the serenity to accept..." and so on. But there is more to The Serenity Prayer.....much more. I recently read a book about this prayer* and I found it to be an important piece of this puzzle called my Spiritual Journey. It was suggested by the author that I memorize the prayer… and I did! (I haven't memorized anything since the multiplication tables in 3rd grade so I'm feeling pretty good about this.) Also a reminder from the author that “There is no lasting peace without effort. The gift of peace comes as a seed, planted in our hearts. It still needs to be nurtured.” I share a bit of this nurturing effort. Here’s the prayer…
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
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.
Covers a lot… Here are a few of my thoughts/responses/ponderings/struggles/awakenings, etc. and a few italicized nuggets from the author.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change… Serenity is good. It comes from God. It comes from accepting people and situations I cannot change…. and there are plenty of them. I need serenity to accept.
The courage to change the things I can… Inner changes….the things about us that spoil our lives and our relationships and need to be transformed. I know what mine are but the transforming part is s-l-o-o-o-o-w. Tough to break old habits, I guess? I react too quickly to things….and give too much unasked for advice. Argh! But only God can reach those parts of me so I am working closely with Him. Plus, and this is a biggie, I want to change. (God smiles here!)
And the wisdom to know the difference… Ah yes, wisdom /aka/ discernment. That comes from God too. But there is work to do. For example, I am trying to make a decision regarding my family and finding the way forward isn’t easy. I will, however, work with God until a deep peace rests upon the choice I make. I will do my best to find the way that God wants me to go. I must…
Living one day at a time… I always thought this was rather cliché-ish and a tad sappy. I try to be intentional, aware of and present with what goes on each day…. and there is enough each day without heading into the past or the future. I try to allow each day to absorb most of my energy, interest and effort. I am learning the importance of it and the serenity it brings.
Enjoying one moment at a time… I am much better at this than I was not-so-very-long-ago. I am more mindful of the moments. I can sit & chat with friends, have lunch in my car while listening to the radio, sit in the morning with a cup of coffee, take a walk, answer a phone call, cut the grass, run errands, houseclean, do laundry (I LOVE doing laundry!) and truly focus on how terrific these moments are, enjoy them and be grateful for each and every one of them. Living and loving the moments….enjoying more peace and serenity. This has made a huge difference in my days. Yay!
Accepting hardships as a pathway to peace… Fine…. but I don't like it at all. I don't want to have hardships let alone accept them, but that is not the way life works. God wants to meet and bless me in the hard times. For some reason, that resonates with me. For me, anticipation of a blessing is a step towards accepting hardships. When I was in grade school I had the measles. Nasty….but while recovering, my grandparents brought me the coolest little flower arrangement and…..drum roll here….a record player!!!(The equivalent of an iPod today.) Yes, the measles were totally worth it!!! I have no idea what the blessings will look like down the road, but I’m counting on them….and that’s what I’m going with.
Taking, as he did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it…Cliché alert!! Love the sinner, hate the sin. We must not distance ourselves from human struggles, but reflect God’s attitude of love and acceptance….as Jesus did.
Trusting that he will make all things right.... Seriously??? Please know that there’s a difference between making things right and making me happy. I want to be happy!!! (I want things right too...of course.) “Trust” is the glitch….we don’t come by it easily. Trust comes as a gift from God, but the author tells me how to “place myself in the path of trusting.” I’ll be working on that…
….if I surrender to his will…. A “fixed, heavenly blueprint”? Or do we have some role in his general and specific wills for us? His general will for me involves being a loving person, developing and using my gifts and living my life as fully, lovingly and honestly as possible. For my specific will, the author cites part of AA’s 12 Step Program which says that through prayer and meditation I should improve my conscious contact with God…praying only for knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry that out. Oh, and our call changes throughout our lives so it is an ongoing process. More work to do….but that’s ok! We’re talking about what God wants for us. Worth the work, don’t you think?
That I may be reasonably happy in this life… A friend said to me, "Reasonably happy? Is that what I'm supposed to settle for?" Remember earlier when I said that I just want to be happy?? Given that I have to accept things I can't change, gather the courage to change things I can, be wise enough to know the difference, accept hardships, take the world as it is and surrender to his will…reasonably happy is not so shabby. We simply can’t always be happy. Oh and, happiness begins on the inside, but that’s for another day.
And supremely happy with him forever… I like supremely. Perfect joy and peace are unattainable on earth. However, an everlasting and total happiness will fill us when our eyes meet God’s. Supremely happy with Him forever….what can I say to that? How about a big Amen…
* The Serenity Prayer by Trevor Hudson
Joan is deeply grateful for the people and opportunities that FPCB has provided over the years as she continues to know God, love others and serve the world (sound familiar??). She loves her family, friends, the Lodge at Woodloch, comfortable clothes, Jesus books, Peyton Manning, cream cheese and olives sandwiches, babies and most adult beverages. She can also parallel park anything anywhere.