For a number of years, I have used the serenity prayer as a source of support in times of trial, frustration, and...well, just daily life. If you aren't familiar with it, here is a chance to get to know it.
"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. "
There may or may not have been times in my life in which I have tried to shoehorn my own will into things I likely knew I couldn't change but I wanted to try to manhandle it anyway. I am not certain how many times a person needs to learn a lesson before actually imprinting it one's brain, but I do know I am glad there isn't a "once you mess up three times, you are out of luck" card.
Attempting to manhandling life is apparently not exclusive to my own life, as evidenced by the myriad ways people have altered the serenity prayer to meet their own feelings. Here is one such way:
Why is it so difficult to simply accept life as life (or, as some of my dear friends say, "accept life on life's terms")? My own belief (and isn't that the one that matters? :) ) is that we want what we want when we want it and have a difficult time giving up control, even when it is perfectly evident that things are not going to turn out perfectly. For example, as Dave and I prepared to board our plane yesterday on a return trip to Tucson from Las Vegas, we saw the announcement that our flight was now going to be delayed by one hour. Knowing that I had to get home to unpack and re-pack for another trip today, I let out a sigh. I joked with Dave, "Apparently, what planes are in Vegas stay in Vegas." He rolled his eyes. We're working on that.
One of the other passengers on our flight reacted a bit more strongly to the announcement by expressing his frustration quite loudly. If I had children, I would have been covering their ears. I whispered to Dave, "I'm guessing that if this airline could get irate, hungover, or despondent people out of Las Vegas sooner than later, they would." Some things are simply out of our control.
Now, you notice I used an example depicting another human being in a not-so-great light rather than shining the spotlight on my own foibles. Is that shameful? I suppose that would encompass my using the second part of the serenity prayer---the courage to change the things I can. The way I look at this part is through the lens of my lack of perfection but my willingness to at least make some progress. I do have the capacity, if I so choose, to make some changes in my own walk, I just have to be willing to do the work. I have learned over the last few/many years that I do best when I am not left to my own devices. For me, that involves relying on God and other spiritual friends whom I love and adore.
I saw this anonymous post online about the serenity prayer for different Myers-Briggs types that I thought would be fun to share:
As I prepare to board my flight to an area in which there is likely ice on the roads, I am going to put that prayer on steroids. I will do the same for you.