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Sunday, September 17, 2017

Wisdom to Know...

I believe in life, we hear sayings and understand them on some level, but don't necessarily deeply or totally appreciate them for awhile if ever.  Once such such saying for me is the Serenity Prayer.  I suspect anyone who has been going to church for a long time, been involved in a support/recovery group and/or is a person of faith has heard of the first part of it:

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.

Not everyone however is familiar with the second part of it:

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. 

Anyway, I've heard it many times and maybe I have really 'gotten it' before, but haven't expressed it clearly as I will no. Below, I'm going to focus on the first part of that prayer as I understand it.


  • Calmness of mind.
  • Untroubled of heart.
  • Doesn't mean no fear or disquiet, but it means they don't rule you.

Accepting the things I cannot change

  • To me this usually means tabling my expectations of others people or circumstances.  
    • Expectations might be quite understandable such as wanting a healthy relationship with you child, your siblings, your parents, etc.  It doesn't matter, the expectations have to be let go if unrealistic.
    • Expectations might appear to be within reach but if you were honest, would see that they aren't.  It doesn't matter how in reach they appear to be, if they aren't, it's time to let the expectation go.
    • Expectations that we will be understood.  If we are fortunate, we will have that friend and/or lover that pretty well understands us.  Life is so complex as is human interaction there is no feasible way to expect anyone other than our Higher Power to totally 'get us'. It doesn't matter how much we want it, it's time to understand that we will never be fully understood by anyone except our HP.  In short, time to let that expectation go.
  • To me, this means actually accepting what I can't change, rather than just saying or trying to convince myself that I have 'accepted' it. 
    • To me this requires an understanding of what accepting is.
      • Recognizing the validity/reality of what is to be accepted.
      • Consenting to the reality of what is to be accepted.
      • Words and actions showing that acceptance.
        • Your focus is not on the person/situation.
        • Any thoughts about the person/situation may pop up, but do not linger.
        • You can have feelings about the person/situation, but you just can't live in them.
    • To me this requires an understanding of what not accepting looks like.
      • Saying you've accepted something, but your words give lie to that supposed acceptance. 
        • For example, you say your over someone, yet every chance you get you badmouth the other party.
      • Saying you've accepted something, but your actions give lie to that supposed acceptance.  
        • For example, you say your over someone, yet when you think no one is watching, you stalk them on social media or elsewhere.
      • A tendency to be triggered about the circumstance that needs to be accepted, even if it infrequent.

Courage to change the things I can
  • To me that means recognizing any blocks in the way of making the change.
    • All the courage in the world cannot help if you haven't identified the blocks in the way of change.
    • This may require prayer, meditation, counseling or other means to draw out the nature of the blocks.
  • To me that means being able to push through those blocks.
    • This means a willingness to face any blocks or demons that are in the way.
    • This can mean asking others, including your HP for help, strength or support in facing the blocks.
    • This doesn't necessarily mean waiting until the fear subsides (it may never).
      • It means walking through the fear.
      • It means talking through the fear.
      • It means focusing what is on the other side of the wall rather than the difficulty in climbing the wall.

Wisdom to know the difference
  • Sometimes we know when what we can change and what we can't--and for that matter should and shouldn't--but need to be honest with ourselves.  Wisdom starts with a willingness to be honest with ourselves.
  • Sometimes we don't know the difference and need to ask our HP, meditate, ask for advice, etc. for help in discerning.  In other words, we have to be open to our HP and the resources he places in our path.
  • Gaining wisdom in life isn't a one-time event, but a life long process.  Gaining wisdom over a specific circumstance or situation likewise may occur over over time rather than all at once, though we might have a crystallizing moment.

For me the path to serenity is a long and continuing one.  I still have a long way to go, but I'm still on the journey and am willing to be on that journey for the rest of my life.  Perhaps one of the biggest blocks is wisdom (or willingness) to know the difference, hence the blog title.  Anyway, while I would love utopia, I know I'll never have it in this life, so I work to rest my hope in my HP that He will grant me the first part of the prayer while I keep in mind the second.

I hope you'll take what you can and are able to use out of this blog and add whatever need as in life, "your mileage may very".  Have a blessed day.

- Rich

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