The first part of this well-known prayer includes the phrase, “…to accept the things I cannot change”. True confessions: I am really, REALLY not good at this. Case in point: almost four years later, I still all but refuse to call my godson “Cecil“. I am being forced into it more now that he is in school and is used to being called by that name, but I do whatever I can to get around it. He can be “Lovey”, or “Cecil Elijah”, or, by habit and/or utter stubbornness, just “Elijah”, but it’s rare that I will call him only by that man’s name.
That man is his dad, though. God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…
A lot of the acceptance that I need to find is around issues with Lovey, oops, I mean, “Little Cecil” (another variation). This has always been the case…he is not my child–I know that–and as much as I would want many things to be different for him, I have to accept and respect his parents’ choices. The phrase that came to mind, given recent circumstances, was, “Don’t do anything for someone that they’re not willing to do for themselves”…but does that apply to what a person is not willing to do for their child? Do I still do my best for him, or do I do no more than what they’re doing? Those of you who know me know what I end up choosing, but it’s a struggle.
There are plenty of other areas where I need to find acceptance…who the people I love choose to spend their lives with and how those choices affect my own relationships with them; the prayers that seem to always get answered with “no” or “wait”, or with no answer at all; the waiting and waiting for whatever is coming next. God, grant me the serenity…and not the “SERENITY NOW!” type of serenity–but real, true peace–“radical acceptance”, as the term goes–acknowledging that I don’t like the situation, but that it’s not something I can change right now. Okay, probably ever.
I’m stubborn. More often than not, I want things to be different than they are. But I know that I waste a lot of energy fretting over things that I can’t do anything about, and I know that I need to find a way–somehow–to live in this tension.
I don’t know what it means that we have to pray that God will “grant” us that serenity…the dictionary’s first definition of the word “grant” describes the word as “to consent to the fulfillment of”…so who fulfills this? Do I? Does God? Is it some combination of the two?
Either way, I clearly need this prayer, no matter how much I resist–or maybe precisely BECAUSE I resist.
It’s no easy task.
2 thoughts on “God, grant me the serenity…”
This has gotten me thinking. Is part of our problem with serenity in an ongoing frustrating situation that it feels like giving up? The image of people with serenity and peace is often not of a passionate actor in life; it’s of a bland smiler. How can one be passionate about justice (whether for a child or a society) and be at peace about injustice?
I know exactly what you mean, Natalie…that’s why the whole “radical acceptance” thing makes more sense to me (if just barely…) As it was explained to me, it’s about accepting something as in, “yes, this is a fact” and not as a “yes, I’m okay with this”.