My Go-to Prayer
When life is challenging, my go-to prayer is the short version of “The Serenity Prayer”. That simple prayer contains great wisdom, and I use it to help ground myself, when I am in the midst of chaos. Here is 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.
Although it’s a commonly known prayer, my guess is few people understand the meaning of the prayer, or take the time to apply it to everyday life situations.
(In this article, I refer to God, but you can substitute whatever makes sense to your belief system.)
This is my interpretation…
The Serenity Prayer
God, (Or any name you use to describe The Creator) grant me
the serenity (calmness, patience, peace of mind, tranquility)
to accept (allow, ride-out, endure, submit, take patiently)
the things I cannot change. (other people’s behavior, the weather, the traffic, random violence, what other people say about me, other people’s beliefs or choices, etc…)
The courage (bravery, fortitude, spunk) to change (transform, adjust, revise)
the things I can (my behavior, my attitude, how I respond to others and to circumstances outside my control)
And the wisdom (insight, discernment, soundness of judgment)
to know the difference (does this situation require serenity or courage? Is this something I need to do? Is it something I need to allow someone else to handle? Or is it something I need to turn over to God?)
How can we tell the difference between whether a situation calls for courage, or serenity? How do we know we have done all we can, and it is time to leave it for God to handle?
There is no one answer that will apply to every situation. However, when we slow ourselves down and pause before we react, we leave space for an answer to appear. Then, we will know which response makes the most sense.
A few examples…
When someone says something that is vindictive or unkind about you, serenity is the answer. No amount of confrontation, is going to change another person’s opinion of you. Their opinion may change over time, but you cannot force the change to happen. You do not need to do anything about the unpleasant comment. Serenity allows the comment to pass, like a cloud across the sky. Letting go of an unkind comment, does not require any effort on your part. The effort comes in when you keep playing the comment over and over in your mind. You are the one tormenting yourself.
If your spouse is angry or upset about something. It is better to allow him or her to process their feelings in their own time and in their own way. Jumping in to “help”, usually causes more harm than good. Just be with them. Until they specifically ask for your help, stay calm and take a “hands-off” approach. This situation calls for patience, acceptance and faith in your partner’s own connection to God.
If you are in an abusive relationship or in a relationship with an alcoholic or drug addict, courage is the answer. No amount of self-sacrifice or numbing of your senses, will change the situation. Although you need to be calm, action is also required. You may need to join a support group or seek help from a therapist or coach. This type of situation usually calls for bravery and resolve in addition to serenity.
If you are unhappy with your financial situation, it takes action to change the situation. You will need determination, honesty and tenacity. If your financial situation is the result of poor money- management skills, you will need to be patient with yourself. Beating yourself up for your mistakes, is not the path to change. It will take time to learn new ways to handle money.
Come to think of it, most situations benefit when we come from a place of serenity. Rarely, can we improve a relationship or create a positive outcome, from a place of agitation or upset.
Notice the prayer doesn’t say anything about implementing high-stress tactics, force, blaming, criticizing or struggle, to bring about change.
Serenity, courage and listening to our inner wisdom (some call it the voice of God) will help us navigate any situation.
Consider the Serenity Prayer whenever life challenges your peace of mind.