”Let us be grateful to people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.” – Marcel Proust
Today I want to say thank you to all the people in my life who have helped me to become the person I am today; for you have tended my garden well and helped to prune and weed out the things that no longer serve my better good. Where would we be without the people in our lives who help us grow and become the beautiful blossom we are called to be?
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
Oh here’s a subject close to my heart. As some have heard me share before I learned many years ago as a young mother of four, that when we pray for patience God gives us lots of opportunity to practice it.
There is a wonderful sense of freedom which creates peace within when we accept the unchangeable situations that calls for patience. What comes with being a parent, but the responsibility that patience requires. It’s no longer just about us so we put ourselves on the shelf for a while as our children’s needs overshadow our own. Another form of letting go. It’s not easy, but when you stop fighting against that which is not going to change, life becomes a little easier as we settle into it. But how do we find the grace to do that? Maybe you have a different way, but for me joining with God in that partnership is like plugging myself into electricity rather than the limited use my battery alone has to offer.
I wonder to myself with this understanding why am I not plugged into Him all the time? I’m guessing it’s because the more I learn to do it the more powerful our current becomes as One. Maybe one day the plug will disappear and all that will remain is electricity. I know, I guess I’m getting a little weird here, but I love using metaphor to clarify what I’m trying to say.
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
“Work as if everything depended on you, and pray as if everything depended on God.” -Ignatius of Loyola
“The serenity we seek arises partly from knowing that we have done all we can and the rest is up to God. There is a true peace of soul that comes over us when we have put forth our best effort. Like a farmer who has tilled his field and sown his seed. He can now sit back to wait for the crops to grow. When we have done our part we can rest with the assurance that the fruits of our labors ultimately depend on God. A life with God can be conceived as a collaborative effort, a joint venture, with God always the major business partner who works alongside us, and makes up for our deficiencies.” Page 28
God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change
Wouldn’t it be nice if we could just say a prayer and God would take away all our troubles? We can put our problems in Gods hands, we can let them go, but the truth is they will continue to follow and affect us wherever we go until we face the fact that we do indeed have a problem. Then and only then can the acceptance come. What comes next is the action it creates. What is prayer, but a spiritual request. When we ask for something it creates an action, and so we must in turn be prepared for what that actions in-tells on our part.
Turning to God in prayer is also creating an opportunity for our soul to become a bigger part of the action it requires. God knows what we need to do to find the peace that serenity creates. He’s not asking us to step aside so He can take over our life. He wants to work with us, in us and through us. The process in itself creates the Oneness that we were designed for in the first place.
So when we hear things like, it is Gods will, it’s important that we understand that it simple means He only wants the best for us. He will show us what He means if we let Him.
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.
I heard about this book I’m reading called “The Way of Serenity” from a fellow blogger, Nicodemus. The author is Father Jonathan Morris.
The book is based on the “Serenity Prayer.“ I wanted to read it because this prayer has always held a special place in my heart. However, I was also skeptical of a priest view because I didn’t want to read a theological dogmatic version of it. I loved the way it already spoke so simply, yet profoundly to the heart and soul of all human kind. Within the first few pages of his introduction, Fr. Morris had me hooked. This is a book that anyone can read no matter where you stand in your beliefs. As a matter of fact, Fr. Morris’ inspiration to write it came from an encounter with a non- believer who proclaimed he didn’t believe in God, period. Fr. Morris told the man he would pray for him, but asked without thinking for the man to pray for him as well. The man told him I don’t believe in pray, because I don’t know if anyone is really listening, but I do like that “Serenity Prayer.”
Fr. Morris went on to say, “it seems to strike a chord that transcends the boundaries of particular religious experience to touch something intimately related to our common humanity. From the most fervent and committed believer to the most skeptical seeker, we can all find in it something of great depth and support.”
As I read through this book I’d love to share with you, what it stirs in my own heart, and what affect it has had in my own life.
Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.
Fear does nothing but hold us captive in its grip.
Consciousness gives us the opportunity to make an informed decision.
Courage gives the opportunity to move forward.
Serenity gives us peace of mind.
How do we get from fear to the consciousness that gives us the courage to move forward where serenity can be found?
When we reconnect with the opposite, “Love.” It’s like pouring water on the wicked witch of the west. It melts away.