serenity & courage

serenity and courageGod grant me the serenity

To accept the things I cannot change;

Courage to change the things I can;

And 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;

So that I may be reasonably happy in this life

And supremely happy with Him

Forever and ever in the next.

Amen – Reinhold Nihbur

many people know of the serenity prayer in some shape or form. you’ve heard it along the way, it on a plaque in someone’s kitchen, or if you go to recovery meetings, it is a staple.  i grew up with the serenity prayer hanging on our living room wall.   the first part is the one most people know:  “God, grant me the serenity, to accept the things i cannot change; courage to change the things i can, and wisdom to know the difference.” yes, there’s no doubt that this part is a prayer i need to meditate on and integrate into my life more and more and more and more.

there are so many things i cannot change—not only in my own circumstance but also in all kinds of other places, relationships, situations.  at the same time, there are many things i can indeed work toward changing.    i can step out in courage, practice new ways of doing life & relationships, seek God’s direction and have the guts to move.   and wisdom to know the difference needs to continually be cultivated (and is sometimes the hardest part, at least for me).

i have no idea where you are at today, but i am guessing some of you are on shifting sands & wrestling with what it means to let of what was and move toward toward new things.   i don’t know if this prayer will be helpful to you, but i thought i’d take a break from the normal carnival intensity and pass this little exercise i’ve done in a couple of different settings.   i used it this past sunday at a monthly gathering of some of my ex-good-christian-women  friends, which is a safe place to gather a little more courage for the journey.

i thought i’d pass it on here;  it might be a chance to just take a moment and consider the serenity prayer.  what is serenity for you?  what are some other words for it?   what are some things that you are not able to change, that are beyond you, that are out of your control now matter how much that drives you crazy?  and what are some things you may need to courage to shift, to step into, to try, to do? for some of you the place where you are at might be related to “church”, for others it might be personal relationships or your relationship with God or some other life circumstance.  the beauty is that we are all struggling with different things, but we probably could all–in some shape or form–use a little more serenity, courage & wisdom.

on sunday morning, we shared our responses out-loud in a type of closing liturgy.   it was so pretty, it really filled my soul, all the different words & thoughts and perspectives of serenity, letting go, hope & courage to change.

here’s what we did, if you want to give it a shot.  just fill in the words that come to mind.

God, grant me the SERENITY…

 

 

to accept the THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE…..

 

 

courage to CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN…

 

 

and the wisdom to know the difference.

here’s mine, at least for today:

God, grant me the serenity…a wild & crazy peace that puts my feet on solid ground even though everything is swirling around me.

to accept the things i cannot change…like the past, the dumb things i got sucked in to & spent far too much energy on, others reactions to me, the big bad “church-in-the-sky” & all the money that seems to float around there instead of here

courage to change the things i can…like living in the present, being thankful for what is, loving well what’s right in front of me, trusting the big story instead of just this chapter, waiting instead of pushing, and in the words of a wise friend “show up, tell the truth, trust God, let go of the outcome.”

if you’re willing, it’s always fun & beautiful to hear some of yours….

Kathy Escobar

Kathy Escobar co-pastors at The Refuge, a Christian community and mission center in North Denver and is the author of Faith Shift: Finding Your Way Forward When Everything You Believe is Coming Apart and several other books.

8 Comments

  • Kathy: There you went and did it again! Just this week I found myself thinking about this very prayer well at least the first part of it. In my 46 years this is the first time I have every seen the whole thing and I want to thank you for sharing it.

    In this part of this season of my life this is very significant to me so much so that even as I write this it is hard for me, because I can hardly stop the tears from welling up in my eyes and taking my breath away.

    Last week I mentioned here about having a neurobiological challenge/disorder. I didn’t identify it last, because frankly I’ve discovered it seems that everyone has strong opinions about it whether or not they are genuinely informed about it or not. However it has effected negatively every single area of life and all of my human relationships since childhood.

    As I’m in a season of seeking to learn what things about my cannot be changed and what can. So the truth is at this point I do not even know to make my personalized serenity prayer.

    Right now as I’m seeking to find the right professionals to assist me as my particular disorder changes in Adulthood and even most professionals are only familiar with assessments, treatments, and management techniques that are used for Children many of which now know by those who experts to be ineffective.

    So I’m in a season of anticipation greater things in every area of life and of strangely great fear as well.

    My whole life I’ve been someone who doesn’t fit in with the crowd whether big or small even when I’ve wanted to I’ve had no idea how and who has either been mistreated, ignored… and or used by the crowd when they what makes me different is what they need.

    Its funny even when I was in the institutional church and wanted to be I nearly always disagreed with it, but often out of a desire for acceptance chose to be untrue to what I saw and believe to be true or even to ignore what I knew the Holy Spirit was revealing to me was not in line with the Spirit and life of Christ or even the written word.

    I find I still desire to be accepted and that it still hurts that I’m not… boy was that hard to say!

    However I’m no longer will to compromise what I know that I know in my heart the Holy Spirit has and is showing me and therefore I know that I will still be rejected accept by the fringe who are similar to myself in the Body of Christ and in society.

    Well I feel like I’m rambling. Thanks again! Kathy I truly thank Father for you and I a proud to be your Brother!

    Tom

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  • God, grant me the SERENITY…to have your peace Lord, to see your heart first before I see or speak to others, to never forget you are always at my side, to carry your Word in my heart, mind and soul
    to accept the THINGS I CANNOT CHANGE…. . help me to accept and let go of things that could not be, to let go of the hurt and hold on to the love learned, to remember love is not controlling but freeing, to remember you are God and I am not….
    courage to CHANGE THE THINGS I CAN… to love the stranger, to love someone I may only meet once, to give, give, give, to respect my person as well as others, to forgive myself for doing or saying the wrong thing, to never give up, to get back in the mix and risk because there’s nothing more beautiful, to be grateful for all I have learned from others, to pray, pray, pray!

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  • GOd grant me the serenity — that underlying sense of hope & joy despite what’s going on. That hope that sometimes feels so small just like a little candle (I remember your image one time of a sliver of hope being a little flame and that’s very much how I think of it) that surpasses any feeling or external condition. The peace to not be paralyzed in my circumstance — even when I feel I’m stuck I believe just a teeny little fire can light the way and ‘fire me up’ to move forward a bit.

    To accept the things I cannot change — my past. my mistakes. people’s opinions of me. the lack of grace others have. being misunderstood. what people choose to see about the world. other’s pasts & experiences that have shaped them. not knowing what comes next. not knowing what you’re up to GOd. feeling like I don’t know which way to turn.

    courage to change the things I can — allowing GOd to get rid of my fear so it doesn’t paralyze me… by running toward Him & spending time with Him….. learning to trust more that I don’t have to see the whole path – you, God, didn’t say you’d light the whole path with a floodlight.. you just said you’d light it with a lamp – just the path right in front of me. it’s okay I don’t know what you’re doing or what comes next — I have to trust that as long as I’m with you then I will be with you and you will take me where I’m supposed to be. continue to be thankful for where I am. learn from where I am right now and not always be looking at what is next. live in right now and figure out why you have me where I am right now. looking forward to what is next yes but not letting that overshadow what I have now. show your grace & love to those around me no matter how I disagree with them, their way of doing things or the path they are headed down. It is not my job to change the people around me – only to allow you to change me – which, if you desire, can affect & change those around me. i’m going to do a lot more living by example and a lot less preaching.

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  • It took me a very long time to figure out that I really couldn’t change certain things:
    -The church people who are certain our Christianity revolves around who we vote for or our stand on social/political issues
    -The church people who have a long list, perhaps unwritten, of what it takes to be a real Christian
    -The church people who “major in the minors” but miss the real needs of the people in the community
    -People I know and care about who are in destructive relationships and life patterns and refuse to seek help or try to change
    -People I know who are dying from some terrible disease
    -Generally, all of the major problems that daily confront millions of people in this world – poverty, disease, loneliness and so on

    However – I have discovered that God regularly gives us opportunities to do something. It may not look like what we thought it would, and it may not always be glamorous or convenient. Thinking back on the past week, I remember several times where I was able to help someone – none of these situations were pre-planned, and all demanded that I drop what I was doing, but they were situations where someone needed something then that I could provide, even if inconvenient for me:
    -A friend is having work done on her house, that she can ill afford. She was advised that a flat roof over the garage needed replaced at considerable cost. I have done this kind of work, so I looked at the roof and think that it does not need replaced, but that someone was trying to sell her a roofing job.
    -A homeless guy needed socks and pants – I knew I had just what he needed, but had to search closets and the attic to find them.
    -A friend who is engaged is looking at a house to buy with his fiancee. The house needs work. He needs to know about how much it will cost to have the work done so they know how much to offer for the house. This involved looking at the house and lots of explanation.

    Even though life has brought pain and sorrow my way, I have been reasonably happy much of the time. Some can not say as much, and I wonder about that as I journey. I can not fix everything or everyone and God doesn’t expect me to. But He does put people and situations in front of me that I can do something about, even if it’s not always convenient and even if it’s not always the way I had planned things.

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  • God grant me the serenity–funny word that, for me it means mind set, at least as it is used in this prayer.
    To accept the things I cannot change–those things that have already happened, those things that are not infront of me at the moment, those things that are bigger than I am, those things I will never be a part of or touch in a personal way, those things about other people that may grate on me but that are out of my control because they are part of another autonomous being.
    the courage–another funny word for me because I rarely think of my self as courageous and yet when I think of this prayer I know that I need courage just to keep waking up in the morning and courage to keep loving the people in my life (especially the ones I don’t like all that much) and courage to know/trust He loves me because most of the time I don’t feel all that loveable.
    To change the things I can. Wow, I just don’t know if there are too many of those in my life. Today I am focused on allowing grace room–His grace toward me and in response to how much He lavishes on me my pouring out a little more on those around me–loving because I am loved, blessing because I have been blessed, accepting because I am accepted–always always a response.
    And the wisdom to know the difference. And the difference is–knowing that the best I can do is be a reflection of my loving Creator.

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  • Kathy, thank you for the reminder of serenity and courage…

    God grant me serenity during this time of helping my dad end his earthly life and begin his forever life.
    God grant me serenity through days that are chaotic and overwhelming.
    God grant me serenity through nights that are interrupted and dark.
    God grant me serenity in the midst of emotion.

    God grant courage to dance in each day that is left.
    God grant courage to see death.
    God grant courage to face the loss of my hero.

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  • tom – i am so glad that our paths crossed out here. thank you for freely sharing your heart. as you are “in a season of anticipation greater things in every area of life and of strangely great fear as well” i pray you will feel God’s peace & presence & wisdom & direction & hope in all kinds of unexpected and beautiful ways…

    irene – thanks for sharing your beautiful heart…

    glenn – 🙂

    randi – oh, so lovely. thanks for offering it to us.

    sam – there are indeed so many opportunities for each of us, right in front of us, things that we can change & be part of as we step out in courage & faith. thanks for sharing.

    minnow – beautiful, thanks for your honesty

    sheri – thanks for taking time to share, sheri, yes, may you feel God’s serenity & courage in the midst of such a painful time…

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