the-serenity-prayer

The Serenity Prayer

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.
Amen.
–Reinhold Niebuhr

The Serenity Prayer Deconstructed, Part One

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change….

- Reinhold Niebuhr

God. I didn’t know to start there. I always started - and stopped - here. Look at my tumblr title and its focus on “man”. I still start here a lot of the time. But I have learned not to be the end, to be humble and humbled, not always in that order.

Grant. I am given, I am gifted, I am a gift that I am learning to unwrap so I can give it away and receive more.

Me. I am all I know. I can know this person if I listen and trust. I can be the focus of my life, which can then ripple positively outward.

The serenity. To sit calmly, facing life as delivered, to know that my part is so small and God is acting life out in myriad ways through all of creation - this understanding can settle me if I let it.

To accept. Life comes at me as it is, people doing their best at any given moment. For me to think that others are making choices based on how I am going to feel is more than a bit ludicrous. So my job becomes to empathize and understand that it isn’t about me.

The things. And people and ideas and actions and events, too. Life offers a dizzying array every day, and I get to choose how I interpret it.

I. Am one man. A small factor in the universe, who knows very little yet can offer much in my yielding to God’s will.

Cannot. Not “will not” or “should not”, because its not about my judgment of what is possible or what is right. There are simply things I must let go of - outcomes, usually - since my perceived level of control over them bears little resemblance to reality.

Change. It always does, regardless of what “it” is. So why bother with all this misplaced energy trying to alter something that is going to change on its own?


There is a divine symmetry in this first passage of The Serenity Prayer and the first three of The Twelve Steps. We are asked to surrender, to accept and in so doing to expect serenity. It runs counter to our “clutch and hold” society, yet it holds immense power for me.

… To be continued …

Serenity Prayer

I often find myself reciting the serenity prayer in my head:

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. 

I’m not a very religious person, but something about reciting this prayer grounds me. Especially the last part, the wisdom to know the difference. Recently, I made a very bad decision, and I’ve been blaming myself for not knowing myself well enough to protect myself…for not knowing the difference. For leaping into a situation where I should’ve had enough wisdom to run the other way. At 27, I still haven’t completely figured myself out, I’m still learning what makes me tick.

What I do know is that’s okay. Life is for learning, and at 27 I shouldn’t have all of life’s answers. That my mistakes will give me the strength to make the right choices in the future. That courage shows its true colors when faced with adversity. And that wisdom develops over time.

The Serenity Prayer. :)

God, grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know

the difference.

Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at time.

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.

Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world have it.

Trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will,

so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You

forever in the next. 

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.
Amen.

—  Reinhold Niebuhr