The serenity prayer goes like this – 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 have had a little fridge magnet of this prayer for a few years now. It would grab my attention from time to time. It is one thing to appreciate this as a philosophy for life or put in up on a wall (real or Facebook) as a reminder, but it is a whole different ball game to surrender to it when life hits you where it hurts.
Over the last year I have been grappling with a few events in my life. When I look back, I can see now that I had been (still am, at times) trying to play God, trying to control outcomes and circumstances, sometimes even kicking and screaming in non acceptance of some painful or unpleasant elements of my life. I was stuck in the “why” of things. — Why did it happen? Why couldn’t they do different? Why couldn’t it be different? Why now,? Why at all? Why me? and so on. If you don’t already know, such thoughts can only take you down one path, a downward spiral.
Trying to fight something that already is can suck the life out of our soul. It is tiresome and draining, like swimming against the tide. I can take a class on that !
During moments of clarity I can see it for what it is. I have no control over another, how they act, what they do or say, I have no control over losing loved ones to death or leaving, I have no control over the physical form I was born with , I have no control over natural disasters and so on. What I do have control over is my responses to them and how I choose to let it impact my life. Note to self : Accepting what is or surrendering to what is, is not passive resignation. It is a more proactive and creative approach to life and making things work for it despite the challenges.
If I am making the right assumption, it is not the events that bother us so much, its more about the fatalistic stories we tell ourselves about them that sets off the panic, and bring our control freak selves into full action. I lost my job therefore……, I lost my husband therefore ………, or I have lost the capacity to use my limbs, therefore…, my face is scarred… therefore……, I have cancer…therefore. We can keep making up these stories about events that happen in our life. At the end it is about whether you can do something about it or not. Do you have the courage to change the things you CAN change. More so, do you have the courage and strength to LET GO of the things you cannot?
Last evening, I was having conversation with a friend living with cancer about the numerous physical challenges he had been facing over the years, the ever increasing symptoms, the different tests and treatments, side effects from them etc . I have seen him function, he does not make the cancer all of his life and yet it is a part of his life. He does not fight what is, he goes with the flow. He now seems to have more and more debilitating side effects from his treatment, which has impacted his day to day life in a significant manner and yet he seems to manage it with enough grace. This is why I wrote about him as someone living with cancer and not suffering from cancer. I guess perspective is that the fine line that defines how we do life.
So, coming back to the serenity prayer and one of the agreements from “The Four Agreements,” (Always do your best) my wish for you and I is that we have the serenity and grace to accept what we cannot change and do our best to change the things we can, the wisdom to know the difference and let life flow through us.
Life & Relationship Coach (CPCC)
June 12, 2017