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've heard it all my life.
In fact, the first time I read it myself, I remember confusing "serenity" with "sanity" and thinking it was sort of a joke. I must have been about 7 years old.
But yesterday I heard a sermon about it. Rooted in Romans 5:1-5, Dr. Cubine spoke about our need to recognize the differences between the things we can change and the things we cannot. He talked about how our need to control situations often allows us to confuse the two, but the ability to discern between things we can change and things we cannot change creates hope through our perseverance. While it certainly wasn't the greatest sermon I've ever heard, the point I got from it was that I look to change everything -- except that which I am not brave enough to tackle.
And so I have been praying the serenity prayer for the last two days as my nightly ritual. But I do not pray it as Niebuhr wrote it. Rather, I pray it specific to my own situations.
God, grant me the serenity to accept that I cannot choose my friends' friends,
that I cannot change the church calendar,
that I cannot make people love me.
But, God, grant that I would have the courage to change my response to unlikeable people,
that I would have the courage to question those in authority,
the courage to love myself.
And the wisdom to know that these are very different things.
The wisdom to know that you are God, I am not, and there is peace in that.
Today, my life has been very different.
Granted, it's been 2 days.
But I have found in Niebuhr's words, tailored to fit only me, a serenity I did not know could exist.
In the midst of the cold, the rain, and budget calculations (something I desperately hate!), I have been sufficiently happy today.
Amazing how when we ask with genuine hearts, God hears our cry.