Do You Need Courage, Acceptance, or Change

serenity prayer.jpg

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you. Joshua 1:9

I shared about my friend who is trying to face all of the changes that is happening to them lately.  It is so hard to watch yourself become less and less of what you once were.

As I try to encourage them, knowing full well the devastation of chronic illness, I find myself falling back on my roots in 12-step programs.  As a wife (now ex-wife) to an alcoholic, parent of a dual addicted teen, and an adult child of an alcoholic, I learned a lot "around the tables," as they say.

If you are at all familiar with the 12-steps, you have no doubt heard the serenity prayer.

To me, it is a wise prayer to fall back on.

"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."

While only the first portion of the entire prayer, it is the most well known.

Knowing what we can't change and accepting it, while at the same time having the courage to change what we can .... isn't that the crux of the matter?

It's not an either/or thing - but rather both/and.

If all we do is accept what is happening to us - we give up in defeat - giving our challenges all of the power over us.  We become helpless, hopeless, and useless.  It spells out the recipe for depression!

Yet, if we continually fight to change even the things that are not changeable, we get stuck in denial of the truth of what is happening to us. We can begin to come at the world in anger and frustration.  We can't see the truth around us.

But if we can learn the wisdom of "both/and," knowing there are some things around we cannot change on our own.  There is much energy that we need not expend on some things - because no matter what we do - it will stay the same unless God changes it.  And if we bravely face the challenges of changing what is changeable (and most often, that is our attitude), then we can begin to see some positive successes in our lives.

We can become happier  and more content.

And we cannot do this on our own.  (Well, we can try for a while, see "A House of Cards," yesterdays post.) It takes God at the helm to lead us and guide us.  I don't think it is easy to see what we need to accept and what we need to change, sometimes.  At least I know it is hard for me, and it is a continual process.

But, if it is God-centered, it is a valuable one.

As I watch my dear friend struggle with these concepts, I am reminded of how hard I fought against even accepting that prayer.  It was for alcoholics --- not for me.  It was for addicts --- not for me.  Then, I finally realized it is simply a prayer for any life at any time.

Perhaps it is time for that prayer in your life today.

Father God, Thank you for the wisdom of those who have gone before us.  Thank you that there are pathways to follow and guideposts along the way.  Help us to truly accept those unchangeable things (be it people or situations), and to be courageous about changing our own attitudes and things that you show us that can be changed.  Grant us that wisdom, Lord.  Wisdom that can only come from you. Amen and amen.

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