This is not about religion or God, so please, hold your judgement. Hopefully, I am able to make my point clear at the end.
So let’s see.
There is an idea that has been reduced to a simple prayer, which is a prayer I have been saying for about 30 years now. They call this The Serenity Prayer, which is a popular one amongst the 12-step communities.
Others know this too, which means the prayer is not just synonymous with recovery but then again, one of the truest ideas I’ve ever heard (and remind myself of) is everybody is recovering from something.
Life can certainly be a bitch. Work is a bitch sometimes. People can be a bitch. Deadlines and due dates are both bitches. I can say this is true for sure. Everyone among us is simply trying to find their way through. We’re all just trying to get by and maybe have a little extra in our pocket. We just want a smile that we can keep for a while but then life comes along and says, “Yeah, well about that smile of yours. . .”
The core of The Serenity Prayer is acceptance, which, in the dictionary it says the act of taking or receiving, to favor; approval, and the act of assenting, believing; as well as the state of being accepted or acceptable.
The prayer is as simple as ever.
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
To be honest, people can say this prayer for years without ever finding its meaning or at least what it means to them.
To be honest, the prayer is an action. It is a mantra. This is an idea; it’s a thought, which is designed to help us get over the hump of something difficult. This is a mindset which says look in a different direction or go to a different place. This is a reminder that life will not change for us. We can only do so much.
In which case, this teaches us that acceptance is key; to know what we can change and what we can’t but moreover, to be at peace with the unbearable factors that come with life on life’s terms. The prayer is a step; it’s an action to move closer to one ultimate goal, which is to find peace in turbulent times.
The goal is to find serenity, as in to be serene or calm; as in to be at peace with what is and balanced in unbalanced moments. This is to be clear in the murky moments of loss or sadness and pain.
The idea is to be able to look for serenity in times where life might be opposite of what we hoped. The idea is to be able to accept what is without the pain of rejection after wishing for what isn’t.
They say that serenity begins with acceptance. Then again, this is easy to say but not so easy to hear. And I can attest to this. I can attest to the fact that one of the most frustrating suggestions is “You have to find a way to accept this.”
Or, “You have to pray.”
There was a time when I was in financial hardship. I was about to lose so many things, including my house. I took on more than I could handle and after being on the bad end of a bad business deal, my mortgage was in arrears.
I had to surrender my cars. I was on the phone with a mentor of mine. He was more like a sponsor actually.
He told me that I have to accept this is happening. I told him that I was afraid I was going to lose my home.
He told me, “Then you have to pray.”
And so I did. I prayed good and hard for about 10 or maybe 15 minutes. I prayed until my phone rang.
Guess who it was?
This was Citimortgage calling to discuss my mortgage. I explained to the woman that I was just talking with someone about this problem.
I told the woman that he suggested I pray about this, to which the woman was very emotionally removed but kind and business-like. She appreciated the prayers and all but unfortunately, Citimortgage could not accept prayers in exchange for the back months and the current mortgage, which was past due.
There is a story about a little girl, playing in the living room. Her father was sitting quietly in his recliner, sad, and beaten by his present condition. He lost his job. He lost his money. He was about to lose his house.
The little girl was being a little girl, which meant all she wanted was to play and be happy but daddy wasn’t happy.
She asked her father, “What’s wrong, Daddy?”
At a moment of weakness and frustration, the father began to answer his daughter’s question.
The little girl suggested, “Why don’t you pray about this, Daddy?”
“Pray?” asked the father in an almost insulted tone.
“Why don’t I pray about this?”
The father looked at his little girl, who was mainly unmoved by his frustration and still innocently playing with her doll while sitting on his lap.
“I prayed for my job back. I prayed for money. I prayed for all of this to go away and what happened? Nothing happened!” said the father.
“I’m still here and I’m still going through the same thing. I asked for everything I needed right now and nothing happened.”
Still playing with her doll and not even looking at her Dad, the little girl, innocently responded,
“That’s because God said no, Daddy.”
I used to think about this story all the time. I thought of this story when I lost a job that was special to me. I thought about this story when I found myself in a rough predicament and I thought about this whenever I was humbled. I thought about this when I was in a bad way, more than once.
I thought about the little girl’s answer and how she said, “That’s because God said No.”
My thoughts on this have changed.
I disagree with the ideas of yes or no in this story. There is a deeper understanding now. First and foremost, and for the religious ones that say prayer brings everything to those who pray; I will point you towards the Book of James, Chapter 2 Verses 14-26, in which this reports, what good is it to claim faith but have no deeds.
Basically, the idea is faith without work is dead, which means one can believe in anything they want but unless they work towards finding their own resolution and solving their situation, faith is lost to the lack of action.
Now, in connection with the idea behind The Serenity Prayer. I am learning that acceptance is an understanding. Acceptance is more than just admitting; accepting is feeling it, knowing it, and realizing this is what it is and no amount of manipulation or coercing will change what is.
And, if we don’t like what it is then we have to find a way to change what we can; whether this is about us or the people we interact with, we have to understand that acceptance is an action.
And look, let’s face it.
Life sucks sometimes. Life gives us news that is difficult to accept. Unfortunately, people let us down. Our feelings are hurt. Suddenly, divorce happens. Break-ups happen and people are unfair or cruel and self-serving..
Life will let us down. This is unchangeable.
These are the things we cannot change. The action to find peace at times like this are far from easy.
So, don’t let anyone tell you anything differently.
It’s okay to not be okay. It’s alright to be mad. It’s alright to think or feel in any which way you choose to. There is nothing wrong with this.
And we can apologize for things we did. We can make our amends, which, let’s not forget one thing; this doesn’t mean our sins are always forgiven and the past is washed away.
If acceptance is work then serenity is the fruit of our labor. I know this is true. However, I also know that some days are easier than others. It’s like having a bad back. Some days it’s not so bad. Some days it sucks. All we can do is work to get through the times that suck as best as we can.
This is our work.
As a man and father and a basic human being; I have reasons for my broken heart. I have reasons to weep, which is fine. I know what my reasons are and I know what my truth is.
I understand why. I accept this as unchangeable. And at this point, all I can do is take action to move on and be the best me possible because as I see it, this is the only way life works.
(at least for me)