Living The Truth of The Serenity Prayer

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. 

Someone once said to me “when you hit bottom, there is no place else to go except back up.” At the time I dismissed that phrase as just another one of inspiration quotes from the internet. Almost two months after being therapy I have never felt as broken and my soul as bare and vulnerable as now. The weekly sessions have led me to discover the naked truth of these words and understand the magnitude and disastrous effects of my grief, sense of loss, pain, disappointment, and feeling of betrayal. Baring my soul in therapy is cathartic but scary as hell. In the beginning it felt like standing at the edge of a huge abyss and being told to jump off, not knowing when and where I would land, and whether I would land safely.

To recover, one must bare the soul ©MTHerzog

The fascinating aspect of therapy, however, is that while sorting out all the broken pieces, I realised that this was actually a flight, not a fall and had to decide which way to continue. It is almost like skydiving, where the most terrifying moment is sitting on the edge of the door waiting to jump out, painfully aware that you are surrendering all control. It is only when I jumped and let go did I discover I could fly.

Surrender – that is what my life is all about now. Surrender to the grief, coming to terms with the losses, and learning to rebuild my flight, fight, and soul. I hit rock bottom, no doubt about that, and even allowed myself to wallow in self-pity while engulfed in a self-destructive depression. But I am also well on the way back up, and fighting like hell to claw my way back into the light.

I have found the serenity to grieve, am learning to cry, understand the losses, and discerning what to repair and what to throw away. The Serenity Prayer has never meant so much to me as it does now.  Most of us only know the short version of the prayer as I have shared above, but in truth, this is actually only the first part of the prayer, traditionally attributed to Reinhold Neibuhr:

God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.

Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would 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.  Amen. 

The shortened version as we know it now was the revised prayer adopted and popularised by Alcoholics Anonymous. Click HERE to read a more comprehensive article on The Serenity Prayer written by Fr. Carota from the collective blog managed by Jonathan Byrd.

It takes a trainload of courage to confront my demons, and even more so to fight them and be able to walk away at some point with the assurance that I have won. It is not an overnight process, and the journey is dark and painful, but if all I take with me into the light is the memory and shadow of the demons then by all means let me fight. Let me fight.

Only a fool repeats the same mistakes and lands back in the barrel. What is wisdom anyway? Is it not the ability to impart the lesson learned and be a more stable person because of it? Wisdom, if you ask me, will never be equated with wealth, so if given the choice, I would rather be wise than rich, but more importantly, I want to be confident that I have learned from my failures.

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