“Lord, 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.” Many find peace in these words. Many miss the power.
Missing It Entirely
The Serenity Prayer is a beautifully crafted blessing to help us steady our minds and remind ourselves of some simple truths. It hits the right notes to make sure we take into account all the right approaches to our concerns. Yet some people miss the value entirely.
Some people lack the peace, courage or wisdom this simple saying provides. They worry about the things they can’t change, they are afraid to change the things they can, and they lack the discernment to know the difference between the two.
Getting only Part of It
Some people get part of it. They get the peace. They don’t worry about anything. They don’t change anything. They just accept that’s the way things are. Even though injustice and pain and sorrow blanket the world outside their window while they watch TV.
Others have the courage. They tackle the heavy issues. They tackle the little issues. They tackle the wrong issues. They create issues where there were none and tackle those. They take discomfort and they create chaos. They have courage, but they have no peace.
Where the Power Comes
The power in the prayer is neither in the peace nor the courage, but in the wisdom to know when to apply either. To have peace while doing nothing when others are hurting lacks courage. To be unable to help and painfully struggling with one’s inability lacks peace. It’s the wisdom to know which is which and taking action where this blessing derives its power.
There is no power in stressing about things we can’t change, but too often we choose the path of least resistance and simply stop stressing. We don’t look for solutions. We stop because it’s too difficult or we don’t have time or we are simply scared of what doing something would do to our schedule or our pocket book or our own insecurities.
In those times, we lack the wisdom to see the value in courage – in taking the time to do the right thing and the immense good it will do, because we are busy doing good things that simply don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.
True serenity comes in doing what we can, when we can, even when the choice is difficult and sacrificial. It’s realizing that just because something is difficult doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Likewise it means that when we truly can’t do anything, that we find peace with our limitations and in understanding that there are things that we can’t yet see that can fill in the gaps.
I hope today you find wisdom to know where you should be. I hope you find peace in your decisions. I hope you find the courage to be a force for justice in the world. I hope you find the power to find serenity.