The serenity prayer was actually written by a guy named Reinhold Niebuhr who lived from 1892 to 1971. It is a bit longer than the prayer we often refer to. I have included the entire prayer here for you to read, though the part I will refer to is the beginning. When I looked it up I had no idea it had more to it than the usual sentence we are all so used to hearing.
“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.
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 in the next.
I cannot tell you how many times I have heard or even said the first part of this in my life. Yet, I have never stopped to think what exactly serenity is? It is the state of being calm, untroubled or peace of mind and composure. “God grant me the peace of mind to accept the things I cannot change…”
This is the part I have been hung up on lately. Accepting what I cannot change. I have done a lot of grieving lately. Things I will not have in this life that others will. A family, children, grandchildren, husband, even siblings, sister in law, nephews or nieces, mom and dad….my life does not and will not look like what the world defines as what our lives “should” look like.
That every woman will be a wife and mother and eventually a grandmother. That every sister will always have a brother and eventually a sister in law and nieces and nephews. That if you grew up with a mom and dad you will have them until they die. No, my life will never be like that.
I was blaming myself for it the other day in a therapy session. “If I never spoke up about what happened to me…” That is where my therapist stopped me and said, “What? What exactly would have happened?”
He was right. I was in terrible physical pain and having serious medical problems, some of which I still have until my trauma is worked through from sexual assault. If I continued to stuff it down I would never get better. I would probably be in a bed somewhere I would be so unable to function physically. I still wouldn’t be married and I would be in toxic relationships.
We can’t change what happened. We can accept what happened, as horrific as it was, so that we can move forward with healing. Ask God for the courage to change the outcome of our lives from ashes into beauty and work on changing what we can; which is healing the trauma. Continuing to ask God for the wisdom to know the difference between what we can and cannot change about our lives.
I cannot change the fact I will never have children or that my family is not healthy for me so I am alone right now. God can help me grieve through it. He can help me have the wisdom to know my life is going to look different than the “normal” people in the world and church tell me it should be.
It is not easy. In fact, it is another incredibly hard thing about this journey, but God in His grace continues to be there for me and He’s there for you too.
What do you need to accept that you cannot change?
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. Heal all of my trauma so I can become more of the person You made me to be. May You receive the glory for it all.
© 2019 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.