by Richard K., SCA-San Luis Obispo, CA


“God 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.”

How many times have we heard and said this famous, short
masterpiece, used by millions over the years? How many times
have the words gone through our heads or passed our lips? Yet
have we really taken the time to think just what it means? Just
part of the ritual, many of us have thought. But with more and
more time in the Program, the words began to take on more
meaning and the Prayer really began to make sense and become a
true tool for our everyday living.

“Serenity…” The dictionary [Webster’s New Collegiate]
defines it as “the quality or state of being serene; clear and
free of storms or unpleasant change; shining bright and steady
in glory; marked by or suggestive of utter calm and unruffled
repose or quietude.” Wow! That sounds fantastic! How do we go
about getting that? The Serenity Prayer says by acceptance,
courage and wisdom.

“…to accept the things I cannot change…” In our
everyday lives there are scores of people, places, things which
none of us have the ability to change, no matter how hard we
try. That gorgeous number has every right to walk down the
street dressed to leave very little to the imagination. Our
partners have a right to have and express and act on their
feelings, no matter if we like that or not. The person down the
street can be an angry, hostile asshole all he wants, even if
it “tears us up”. The stereo is going to break down when its
time is right, whether we like it or not. We might come down
with the three day flu, just when the “date of the year” is
coming up. Those porno movies and bookstores are just
businesses, no matter if they’re “sleazy” or not, and are just a
part of the scene. These are all things that we are powerless
over, can’t control, and with this Prayer are asking our Higher
Power to help us accept just they way that they are — or are
not — and let them go for Him to handle in His very own way….
to surrender to Him, and TRUST that His way is the best for us.

“…the courage to change the things I can…” There are
lots of these kinds of things. Our addictions. Our manner of
thinking and living — being controllers, manipulators, judging
others and ourselves unduly, being constant criticizers. The
way we relate to others — including the asshole. The language
and nuances we use. Maybe the suggestive way we dress. The way
we don’t take care of ourselves. “Courage” could read
“willingness”, too. Willingness to take hold of our lives and
take responsibility for each of our choices — choices given us
as free spirits by our Higher Power. Because we are fully
responsible for them, whether we like it or not. No one else is
going to take responsibility for us. We can blame others all we
want for all the shit that’s gone down for us, but the bottom
line is: Baby, it’s all ours! So, with this Prayer, we’re
asking our Higher Power to give us the courage to take actions
for ourselves, and not expect George to do it. We can’t just
sit back and expect our Higher Power to do it all for us either;
we need to take action with His guidance.

“…the wisdom to know the difference.” While some things
are pretty obvious as to whether we can do anything about them
or not, there are many “fine line” things in our lives, too.
Things maybe that aren’t the best in the world for us, but, for
the time being might be an OK thing to ease the pain while we go
after the biggies. Others are even more subtle than that, and
we’re pretty hard put to try to discern for ourselves which
things we should just accept and let be, and which things need
our action or attention. So, in this part of the Prayer, we are
asking our Higher Power for His guidance, to know His Will for
us, for clarity in each decision we make, or need to make, and,
really, for the strength to carry out a decision once it’s made.

And all this comes through if and when we let it. But it
takes surrender — and acceptance. It takes shutting up and
listening and going with the feeling, with the real intuition.
It’s there. Waiting for us to pick up and run with it — one
day at a time.

An old Mother Goose rhyme has another way of looking at it:

“For every ailment under the sun,
There is a remedy,
there is none;
If there be one, try to find it;
If there is
none, never mind it.”

Recovery is a miracle — each one of us is a walking

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