The Meaning of the Serenity Prayer
“God, Grant me Serenity to Accept Things I cannot Change, Courage to Change the Things I can, and Wisdom to know the Difference.”
All of us heard or read these words at least once. But how many understand that there is a great power in this prayer that can be leaned on, no matter from what confession or spiritual path they are coming? Here’s my interpretation.
“Things we cannot change” – I cannot change my alcoholism. I cannot change my body structure, the shape of my bones or intestines, the flow of blood, the work of the heart and brain. I cannot change other people unless they allow me to and let themselves listen to me. I cannot change the events happening in the world, including natural cataclysms. These things may trouble me, get me frustrated and depressed, in other words, make me worry and care. To stop worrying and caring I need to accept the things and people the way they are and let them develop in the way they do.
“Courage” Yet I can change certain things. I can change my attitude towards people and things/events happening. I can try and try more to work on my recovery. I can stand firm and prove to others I will not need what they have to give me if it has a capacity to harm me and/or my sobriety. I can and have the right to turn my back on them if they mean harm to me, and I don’t have to explain why.
No matter how strong and independent we think we are, deep inside we still worry how other people see us, how we’d like to be seen, and what others would think and what would they do in response to our actions. We need courage to have defense from this mind-breaking stream of thoughts for it can damage our serenity. We can do it, but we need courageous inspiration to make the first step forward.
I can make a shift from self-centeredness and selfishness towards giving and helping and being useful to others. Sometime to make that shift, to change requires a lot of courage. To be kind and helpful to others is to step out of the line where everybody else stands indifferent and ignorant to whatever happens around. To show you are sympathetic and helpful is to be courageous. Most of the negativity in the world happens because so many people think the gross events are not of their business. To break out from that frame of mind we need courage. We need to step out of ourselves and be there for others, for this is what our program of recovery requires for us to keep our sobriety of body, spirit, and mind.
“Wisdom to know the difference” We do remember where we came from and where we are now, but sometime we tend to forget. Forget the goodness we have: the peace of mind; shelter to find rest at; food to eat; friends to share with. We need to be wise to realize how much good we possess so we will not be seduced into our old ways of life. To remember we were saved through our Higher Power so we won’t turn our back on it as soon as doubt creeps upon us or we feel we were running the show now, or we felt good at some point to the degree we didn’t need anybody’s help. Wisdom to want less and possess less material things. To remember that the more you won (including resentments and fears), the more it owns you and keeps you on a short leash. Wisdom to remember to give more and carry the message of hope. Remember that we are helped through been helpful to others who do not know. We are to carry the wisdom to them.