“The greatest gift you can give someone is receiving what they have to offer.” – Anonymous
From the simplest prayer, thought and reiki, to the many cards, flowers, meals, and care giving. I’ve been showered with the gifts of kindness, selflessness, blessings and love. My surgeries this past year while overwhelming in the negative sense have brought a new awareness of overwhelming proportions revealing how much others really care. I used to be a very private person not telling too many people what was going on in my life. I didn’t want to complain or seem whine about things. Getting through those difficult times was pretty lonely and seemed to take longer. What I have found in reaching out to others is that the experience is much less stressful, I heal faster, and I’ve become more humble as I accept the gift that others have to offer me.
As I continue to heal through the Christmas season. I’ve been saying that it doesn’t feel like Christmas. Of course that’s because I’m not doing all the things I usually do that get me in the mood. But in truth these past few weeks I’ve been experiencing what the true meaning of Christmas spirit is about, the giving of oneself. “The greatest gift you can give someone is your time. Because when you give your time, you are giving a portion of your life that you will never get back.”-Anonymous
I humbly and with deep appreciation accept your many offerings. I couldn’t ask for a greater Christmas gift.
“My 7-Day Challenge”
Ok, so this morning I woke up thinking about what a good night’s sleep I had. I grab the opportunity to say how grateful I am to have been given another day to live. My gratitude moves off into a list of things that come to mind. My day is started on a good grounding. I want to stay in this frame of mind, but I know that it takes work and practice to shut out all the things that begin to creep into my everyday life. How easy it is to lose sight of the joyful things we want to hang onto.
Something that I recently read came to mind. It was a challenge that was planted like a seed and I could hear it calling out to be watered. The challenge was to not complain for 7 days. Hum! This could be a good practice in seeing how much I actual do that. But I start thinking that maybe this isn’t a good week to do it. I’m still recovering and I have a lot coming up this week, maybe I should wait until the conditions are better. I realized that it sounded like the same thing I do when I think about going on a diet. Ha-ha! I’m laughing at myself as I realize the game I play to avoid the things that are good for me.
So I sit down with Tom for a chat. At some point I find myself complaining about this that and anything else I can think of. It feels like I’m getting it all out before I venture onto this challenge, and when I realize what I’m doing I’m ashamed to see the ugliness it brings out in me. This is certainly not the reflection I want to cast of myself. It doesn’t even feel like the real me.
Now some would say, “ah Connie, you’re only human.” I might say the same thing to someone else to make them feel better. But isn’t that actually settling for less than we really are capable of being as humans?
So I’m accepting the challenge as of today Friday September 16, 2016. I’ll let you know how I make out. Maybe you might want to join me in the challenge for yourself. Wow! Think of what the world would be like if we all stopped complaining for even one day.
“The Way of Serenity” continues and now we go into the second part of the prayer.
“The courage to change the things we can.”
It takes courage to climb out of the holes we’ve been hiding in. As we accept the things we cannot change, the next step is to change the things we can. We don’t feel the freedom it creates for us until we let go of what’s holding us back. No one ever said it was going to be easy. The old way of thinking and doing things must change as we discover the better ways that create the life we want. It will take patience, practice and perseverance, which can feel overwhelming. It takes more than any human can do alone. That’s why in our moment of desperation we call out to God to give us the serenity to accept what we can’t change by ourselves. As we peek outside our hole, it is our soul that awakens us to this new life, and we wonder why we couldn’t see it before. It is with this reconnection of soul and self that we gain the courage to climb out. Each time we find the courage to change one thing, we gain a little more confidence in our ability to do it again.
Einstein said, “In the middle of every difficulty lies opportunity.”
When we break out of our holes, the world opens up to us, and opportunity enters in.
Anxiety and Distress
“An important step in spiritual exercise of overcoming distress or anxiety is choosing to trust that you are not alone, and then to move forward with that knowledge.” I’m sorry Fr. Morris, but it is not that easy to do, and as a matter fact, making one think that it should be, only makes our anxiety worse. I have found this to be true in my own life. With all I know and understand with my relationship with God it has been the hardest thing for me when that faith doesn’t follow through. The anxiety becomes like a drug or alcohol that clouds our thinking. For me it is has been ingrained into my psyche from childhood. So when I have bouts with it, I feel like the alcoholic who has fallen of the wagon. It’s a kind of strange addiction I have, and don’t want. It’s triggered by stresses that get out of control turning on old tapes of feelings and fears. I go into this mode of distress because I want to get rid of it, fix it, make it go away, and I ask God, “why aren’t you taking this away from me.” I have to come to the point where I can see that this is not something I can change on my own. When I get to that place of acceptance I see this bed of hot coals I have to walk across, and once I get there I have to face the monster of fear that created the anxiety in the first place. I can’t walk across it without holding Gods hand, and the funny thing is once I get to other side I realize the bed of coal never really existed, and the monster of fear was not as scary as I’d created it to be. In my own conclusion I’ve learned that I have to get out of the way and accept that neither I, nor God alone can change this, it’s a joint effort. It is only than that we can apply the important step that Fr. Morris states above.
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
When we are in the mist of our troubles, the things that keep us awake at night thinking what we could have done different. What can we do about it now? Oh please God take this burden away we cry out. There are so many hardships from addictions, to sickness, heartaches and losses, I know I’m only touching the surface of many. These are overpowering things. That cause us not to think straight. We have to get to that cry for help. What do we want? To find a sense of peacefulness that will carry us through, because in our desperation, we know there is nothing we can do to change what’s happening. How do we find the serenity we need? Through the gift of acceptance. It’s not enough to ask, we have to be willing to put into action what accepting requires. Believe it or not, there is a gift waiting to be received though our act of acceptance, and that gift is the serenity we long for. It’s tough though. I’ve been through my share of things; I can’t imagine that anyone hasn’t.
How do we accept a gift that is handed to us when our hands are too full of the pain and sorrows to grasp onto it? We have to begin laying down the things we can’t do anything about. The serenity prayer is easy, but the work we have to do takes time, patience and trust. Even when we find ourselves in a better place, it can be difficult to let go of our painful past experiences. I carried a tremendous amount of emotional baggage with me into my marriage and family life. As long as I held onto it I remained imprisoned by it, always the victim feeling helpless. Until one day in a group session with other emotionally damaged people, I got tired of hearing the same story’s over and over again going nowhere. Changing nothing, because as Fr. Morris points out, we can’t change the past. It’s only in the letting go that we are able to receive the gift that acceptance bring. It is so freeing; how can you not experience the serenity it creates.
And the beat goes on through life as we will encounter many more unrelated things we could have never imagined that will be hard. Each time you learn a little more about what your capable of handling, yet it never gets any easier to go through.
The book is broken up into 3 parts:
Part 1-The serenity to Accept the Things I Cannot Change
Part 2-The Courage to Change The Things I Can
Part 3-The Wisdom to Know The Difference
It doesn’t surprise me that there are 3 parts worth talking about within this little prayer. Each part containing several chapters dedicated to its substance and meaning in our life. Now I have to say, that I don’t believe you have to dissect this prayer to understand it. The very beauty and simplicity of it says enough in and of itself. If I had to take it apart to understand it I’d be the first to put it down. However, knowing what it has meant in my own life makes me excited to dig deeper into its meaning. There is always another level of understanding to be found in the things we learn along our journey in life. It’s in the” aha” moment were we find ourselves saying, I never thought of it that way, that takes it to a mystical level of understanding we never even knew existed.
Do you remember the first time you heard the prayer? I was 16. I came to live with my Dad who I hadn’t seen in 4 years. He had just been through a recovery program for a drinking binge he’d been on all that time. As we talked about where we’d been and the difficult times we’d been through he shared with me some of the survival tools he’d learned. The Serenity prayer was one of them. Even though I was still so young, I had grown up before any kid should have, learning a few survival tricks of my own. I had this quarky kind of relationship with God, and with Him by my side I believed I’d have a better life someday. Holding onto to bitterness and resentment had no place in my planes. As I listened to the prayer it fit so perfectly with what I needed to do in my own life. Learning to accept what I couldn’t change allowed me to move in the direction of what I could change. A task easier said then done. One that would be a work in progress that I’ve learned to apple to the many ongoing events that take place in ones life.
This is a good place to stop. Stay tuned if your interested. I’m only beginning to dive into each chapter of the book. I’d love to hear any input you might like to share, and when the Serenity prayer first struck a cord within you.