Wednesday, December 3, 2008

The Serenity Prayer: Courage

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.

It's a prayer many of us have heard and one that some of us cling to as a sacrament just as effective in reaching a Higher Power as communion. When I pray the serenity prayer, well, things happen. Serenity, courage, and wisdom happen-- not always in that order.

Most recently I have been thinking a lot about the whole courage part. Sometimes recovery comes in thick layers like eras of time that can be excavated by archaeologists. If someone were to try to do an archaeological dig on my life, they would find a thick layer and say, "Hey, here's the acceptance era!" This is, of course, is not true for everyone, and will change through the course of my own life as well. I believe I am presently in the era of courage and it is very scary, thus, the era of COURAGE.

I have often prayed this prayer and thought, "Why would you need courage to change something that is already fully within your power to change?" The prayer does say, God grant me the courage to change the things I can. Why is that scary? Well, now I know. Once you have reached full acceptance of the truths in your life, whether that be I am in debt, I am very sick, or My boss is impossible and there is nothing I can do about it, the next logical step becomes action.

When I am no longer obsessed about about all the things I cannot change, then I am absent of anxiety! I am at a place of peace. In this peace I have the clarity to see all the things in my own life that have become overgrown or dying, and am faced with the daunting task of cleaning it. This may require me to throw out the very things I once thought were essential to living. This is very scary because one may think, "What if I throw this out and then I need it later? What if this really was keeping me alive and then it's gone! I will die without it!" or him, or her, you just fill in the blank. Looking in your own yard means cutting back things and that will probably hurt. It means acknowledging your own negligence and taking responsibility for it. It means jumping into the unknown, leaning completely on the belief that my own human mind cannot heal my own human mind and I just might have to depend on someone else to help me with this. Looking at my own yard means I can never blame other people again for its overgrowth and shambles. Deciding to do this takes immense courage, really deep, gut-wrenching courage. God, GRANT me the courage to CHANGE the things I can.

I know for me it won't actually be archaeological digs that uncover these eras but journals and blogs that trail for miles after I am gone. And when friends, loved ones, and generations behind me dig through the writings, I pray they find thick, healthy layers of acceptance upon courage upon wisdom and that they know-- words bring healing, whether it's a journal entry or a prayer.

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