The Serenity Prayer....
I was a teenager when I came across the prayer card shown here and it has been with me since. Perplexed and confused by the challenges I had to face then, I found this prayer to be comforting. However, my appreciation of it was superficial.
As life gets more complicated over the years I continue to return to this prayer like an old friend. It has not failed me; I always receive the peace I need.
It wasn't until I worked with people who are recovering from substance abuse and dependence that I discovered how instrumental this prayer is to them. This prayer is recited at the end of every meeting.
When I went through my ordeals, a mentor gave me a token with the Serenity Prayer on it. This token is very special to me. It accompanied me through the dark nights, understood my sorrow and gave me extra strength when I thought there was nothing left. Often I looked at the words, meditated and reflected on them and asked myself how I can translate the prayer into tangible actions.
If you are in a difficult situation right now, I like to invite you to do this exercise with me.
First, take a piece of blank paper. On top, write the situation that bothers you right now.
Second, draw a line in the middle.
In the first column, write "things within my control". Next column, "things beyond my control".
Fill up the two columns accordingly.
Once you are done, examine your list to ensure that you have put down everything and that they are in the correct column. This is the part that requires wisdom!
From "things within my control" column, identify 2-3 items that you are ready to tackle for the day/week. Then, do it one at a time until you have completed everything. This will give you some semblance of autonomy, agency and hope as you ride through the storm.
What do you do with the list under "beyond my control?", you ask.
Nothing. You surrender.
Between the two, I can guarantee you that it is harder to do the latter. Be patient, kind and compassionate with yourself when you are not able to let go. Letting go is a process and it gets easier with practice.
Too simple to be effective?
As with any intervention, there is only one way to find out; you have to do it with an open mind and see the outcome for yourself.
This strategy has worked for me countless time. May you find a friend and solace in it too.
Should you decide to experiment with it, I really like to hear your experience. Please comment or email me. If it doesn't work for you, you can email me too and let's get the conversation rolling.
Come, let's flourish together!
Related post: What is prayer?