The Serenity Prayer
In 1939 Reinhold Niebuhr, an American/German theologian, speaking to a small congregation in Massachusetts and reflecting on his sadness concerning the events in Germany prior to WWII, made this statement:
“God give us the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed,” Niebuhr prayed with his small summer congregation an ocean away from the cataclysm of World War II, “courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”
Today we recite this in our recovery groups, prayer groups, and in our troubled hearts. The Serenity 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.
This simple prayer which we know as the Serenity Prayer has been a staple in the toolbox of those in recovery from almost all addictions for almost 80 years. And rightfully so, not just for those in recovery but for us all. We can all benefit from the words Dr. Niebuhr wrote.
Today I want to reflect on the first of the three statements: Serenity.
What are the things we cannot change?
- Well, the weather or we in Texas would certainly be in line for that ability.
- The hardness of another’s heart. Yes, sometimes it is difficult to be around unforgiving, judgmental people, but when we learn to understand that that is their problem, their hardness of heart, not ours, we can learn to not “take on” their personal baggage and difficulties.
- The ocean tides.
- All the stars and planets in the Universe.
- God’s love for us. But then who would want to change that? It’s a given and we need not worry.
- You won’t live forever.
- You can’t please everyone. Maybe the question is, why do we try. We are who we are, our goal for ourselves should be to maximize our happiness and joy. If someone else is not happy – too bad, our goal is to love and care for ourselves and find that joy.
- What other people think. I was once told that what other people think is none of my business! I like that, it is their thought, not mine.
- As they say, “yesterday is gone, tomorrow is the future, all we can change is today – that’s why they call it the Present!”
- Who you are and where you came from. But that is only a problem if we let it define us.
Our Affirmation for Today:
Today I will accept our difficulties with Serenity, peacefulness, calmness, and tranquility.