Friday, November 15, 2013

Serenity Prayer

Today, I've been thinking a lot about the Serenity Prayer:
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.
I had issue with this prayer coming into Al- Anon, and in a lot of ways, not in the least that whole "God" business.
Who the hell was this "God?"  What the hell was this so-called "Serenity?"  Why should I "accept" anything?  How the hell do I know what I can and can't change?  God sure as hell couldn't help me with any of that.
I bristled with animosity at prayer, especially scripted prayer.  Prayer did nothing.  I was proof that prayer was nothing but wasted breath. 
Even with a hesitant acceptance of God, prayer was still something I Didn't Do.  Why should I talk to this omniscient, omniphilitic being?  Shouldn't he know what I want and need?  Bah.  Prayer was a waste of breath.
Then someone mentioned prayer as a form of meditation and release. A light bulb went off.  Prayer wasn't for God.  It wasn't for show.  It was for me!  It is a way for me to coalesce my jumbled thoughts.  It is a way to figure out what I really think I want or need.  It is a way for me to admit I "need a lil help here." In the case of the Serenity Prayer, it's a reminder that I can't change everything and that's ok, and I can get a lil help in whether or not I can change it.
Serenity was another elusive thing.  The dictionary definition really did nothing to help me piece it together.  Neither did the thesaurus links.  How could I be calm in accepting something I not only didn't like, but had no power over.  I was supposed to LIKE having no control over something?!  My mind kept going back to "calm and peace."  You can be calm in situations you abhor, even if you fake it.  Maybe accepting didn't mean "like" in this case.    Maybe it just meant accepting it as existing, not accepting it as something you like.  Maybe it meant I'm supposed to use a calm mind to acknowledge that what I don't like does exist, but doesn't hafta anger me.  I can do that.  I may not hafta like it, but I can calmly acknowledge it exists and I can't do a damn thing to make it not exist. I still may not be happy about it, but I'm not spinning my wheels trying to fight reality.
"Courage?"  If it needs to be done, fixed, or changed, that's not courage.  That's doing what needs to be done.  It may be hard sometimes, but it still needs to be done.
"Wisdom to know the difference."  I struggled on this one for a while. Did they mean wisdom or knowledge or both?  I found my lightbulb moment.  Wisdom meant just that: the quality a wise one has.  It meant the ability to sit calm and still, or dig for the answer, heck, even pray for the answer.  It meant the ability to remain calm and unperturbed until you figure out what your part is.  It meant knowing when to "Let Go, and Let God," and when to fight against heaven and earth because it's your battle.  Sometimes, I'll try and do God's part too, just 'cause I still can't fully trust the fucker, and inevitably, something will smack me down with a "that's not yours!"But imperfect is ok.  I'm still learning.

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