Tuesday, April 22, 2014

S is for Serenity? [A-Z Blog Challenge]

Theme A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R

Serenity - the state or quality of being serene, calm, or tranquil; sereneness.

The Serenity Prayer

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 hardships 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.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

[Before I start this discourse, let me issue a disclaimer.  I am in no way criticizing the prayer or the programs the prayer represents.  I'm critiquing my understanding of it.  Thank you.  Now read on...]
I've sat through almost six years worth of recovery meetings, all of which were ended with this prayer.  From day one of hearing it in it's entirety, I've been mystified by the purpose of it.  I've not felt serenity from it, but rather, confusion and a bit of dejection settles in.  How?  Well, let's just take this a piece at a time.

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.  How can I possibly just lie down and accept this addiction I can't change, or anything else for that matter?  But then, I hear during every meeting how I can't change myself.  So the message is confusing; you can't change yourself, so you need recovery to change.  Oh, wait, you need to just passively accept what you can't change.  This conundrum doesn't give me an option to "know the difference."

Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time;  I have found great comfort in this portion of the prayer.  Living in the now while receiving healing from the past and planning for a bright future is so freeing.

Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;  Hold on, hardships and failures is why I've not had any peace.  God and His word are the pathway to peace.  Jesus Himself is the Prince of Peace.  According to Strong's Concordance of the Bible, the word peace in Hebrew is shalom, which means "completeness, welfare, safety, health," or as one of my favorite ministers defines it "nothing missing, nothing broken."  Ongoing destructive hardships are the direct opposite of the Biblical definition of peace.  This is getting worse...

Taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it;  I do not understand this line at all.  Yes, Jesus took the world as it is.  However, He forever changed it by his life, death, and resurrection.  So, the world didn't stay "as it is."   My job is to live a life that makes the world better and not leave it as it is.  So, I don't get that part.

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.  Amen.  God is working on me to make all things right, so I'm sure I can be more than just reasonably happy.  The definition of reasonable is "moderate, not excessive."  I have the Spirit of the living God inside me and I'm only supposed to pray for just enough happiness?  No way!  Ephesians 3:20-21 says "Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen."  Doesn't sound merely reasonable to me.  Yes, I know that heaven will be better than anything I can imagine.  However, I don't see winning others to Christ if I'm only reasonably happy to be one of His followers.  I've never seen "lemon religion" or "pickle-puss evangelism" work on anyone.  

I realize the this prayer is just a small part of the meetings, and I've just simply refused to pray it because I don't understand it, but many of my fellow strugglers really get a lot of peace from it.  I haven't yet.

I know my blog challenge is about recovery nouns and recovery heroes and this seems to contradict that.  But, I think the good part is that I'm allowed to question these things and find answers.  I'm sure that I will get the answers I need to make this prayer an integral part of my recovery.


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  1. I think you are right. I saw a prayer posted on FB talking about accepting your bad circumstances like....??? I countered with a statement that said, yes, I WILL pray for an end to those circumstances. My pastor prays EVERY DAY that he'll be free of his Type I Diabetes. He'll never stop. We'll never stop. Shannon, you are RIGHT!!! Don't EVER stop praying and striving for something better!!! You are a great Christian and a Patriot!!

    1. I don't know about good Christian or patriot, but thanks. :)