So, it happened almost a decade ago when I was standing in the shower…and really, isn’t that were most important ideas are birthed?Anyway, I felt God speak to me and say “you spend so much time trying to control the things you can’t control that you miss the opportunity to control the things you can.“
There are things in our life that we can control, and things we can’t.
It is common to obsess over things we can’t control because lack of control feels scary. Here is a simple example. We might say to ourselves, “Bob doesn’t like me.” While we can’t necessarily control whether or not Bob likes us, we can control how we respond to Bob. We could sit down and have a conversation with Bob and say something like, “I feel like things are strained between us, have I done something to upset you? Is there a way we can work on improving our relationship?
The challenge for people like myself and others in addiction/recovery is often times we struggle deeply with conflict because we feel like conflict will bring terrible loss and destruction upon our lives. We are also afraid because most likely in our family of origin conflict was not dealt with properly…if at all.
So how does all this line up with living out the Serenity Prayer? I’m going to tell you. We say, “God grant me the serenity to accept what I can’t change.“ Here’s my favorite quote from the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous:
And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.
When I am disturbed,
It is because I find some person, place, thing, situation —
Some fact of my life — unacceptable to me,And I can find no serenity until I accept
That person, place, thing, or situation
As being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.
Unless I accept life completely on life’s terms,
I cannot be happy.
I need to concentrate not so much
On what needs to be changed in the world
As on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.” Alcoholics Anonymous
When we focus on acceptance and give up the fight of trying to change what we can’t, a huge relief comes, resentments fall away, and courage is birthed. This also allows gratitude to rise within us.. and gratitude can destroy resentments, which is one of the number one causes of relapse.
Resentment is just plain unforgiveness.
After we say, “God grant me the serenity to accept what I can’t change,” we ask for the courage to change what we can. This can be a big stumbling block. Part of the reason we obsess on what we can’t change is because the things we can change seem terrifying to us and we need the courage to act. Hence asking Bob why he doesn’t like us, or asking for a promotion instead of obsessing over why we hate our job.
Obsessing over something is the same as trying to control it.
You may not be acting on it but you are obsessing over it. It’s the same thing. Essentially, a lot of the stumbling blocks for us addicts and codependents is the fear of asking for what we need because we have been taught that our needs don’t matter. Well, they do.
After we say “God grant me the serenity to accept what I can‘t change, and the courage to change what I can,” we then ask for the wisdom to know the difference. We need wisdom to sort out the two columns. Here’s a great exercise. Get a piece of paper and write down all the things that are ailing you. Your fears for the future, your fears for tomorrow, your current fears. You will find that there are a lot of things you thought you couldn’t change but you really can. Identify the areas you really can’t change and give them to God.
Most of these fears come down to other peoples reaction to you asking for your needs.
Then write down things that you can change. Write down the ways in which you can actually change the situation or have influence on it. No matter how scary or horrifying it seems, write it down. Then pray for the courage to do that thing. The more you pray about it, the less scary it seems. And, if you can get a good friend or sponsor on board to cheer you on this helps a ton. In fact it is key. We all need cheerleaders.
Is this information helpful to you? If so, please comment below. And if you are enjoying this blog so far, here’s a video you might like. https://youtu.be/zBb9Yc0sHss
I want to end with the Serenity Prayer in it’s entirety because I think it’s beautiful and most people don’t know the whole thing.
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.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as the pathway to peace.
Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it.
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will.
That I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with Him forever in the next.
Acceptance and courage are your keys for change today, embrace them and you will be successful.