The Serenity Prayer: Changing What I Can


Change is hard. Changing ourselves is harder.

Earlier, I shared my thoughts and experiences about accepting what I cannot change. I anticipated I would share my reflections on the part of the serenity prayer “change the things I can” in a week or so. After all, you just “do it”. You make those necessary changes and get on with it.

Easier said than done. With all good intentions that comes with the arrival of a new year, I made efforts to make changes in my habits, ways of thinking, not so positive feelings surrounding myself. I stumbled and tripped a few times over my own good intentions.

For the past few winters, I’ve taken a class of some kind as a way to fend off the blues associated with slate gray Ohio winter skies and to learn something new. I’m a happy camper when I am able to feed my intellect! One year I took a series of astronomy courses at the Cincinnati Observatory https://www.cincinnatiobservatory.org/. In another year, I began Tai Chi classes. Another year, I participated in Reiki training. This year I thought about taking an intermediate photography class but decided spring or summer may be a better time for that. I chose to take a writing course at Women Writing for Change https://www.womenwriting.org/ on the chance that it might help me design questions and prompts for blog followers. I chose to sign up for Celebrating our Struggles because it seemed to have a focus and purpose for writing. I’ve had my fair share of struggles, so I thought I’d have ample material to write. (The truth is my struggles are no greater or lesser than any other human on the planet!)

Through writing at least ten minutes every day, using prompts provided by two gifted facilitators, and through Saturday morning writing circles, I’ve realized there are things I can change. I can change my relationship to the wounds and pains I’ve experienced. That change doesn’t come from “getting over it” and bull dozing my way through it. It comes from compassionately accepting that stuff happened and changing how I see it as part of my life story.

The difference is I’ve changed my attitude about those hurts and struggles by taking an honest, compassionate look at them and asking “what gift did I receive from this struggle?” What quality do I have that I wouldn’t have but for experiencing those wounds?

There is a practice in Japanese art called kintsugi where broken pottery is repaired with a mixture of lacquer and gold dust. Philosophically it treats brokenness as part of the history of the pottery rather than disguising the repair and hiding it. These pieces of pottery are honored and even prized for their imperfections. I believe by looking at what gifts we received from our wounds and struggles, we are able to see our brokenness as something to celebrate as part of our story. We can “rewrite” our stories. We can re-tell those narratives and redeem the wounds. Those wounds make us who and we can heal them and welcome their gifts.

From the “I learn something new every day” file: Apparently, the Serenity Prayer is attributed to theologian and ethicist, Reinhold Neibuhr (1892-1971) Below is the full version:

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;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next. 

Questions for your reflection:

We often carry stories of where we’ve felt devastated by situations and carry old wounds. What is your “gold dust and lacquer” that glues the broken pieces together? What wound are you holding onto and why? What would happen if you let go? What would it feel like to redeem your brokenness?  Identify and name what you CAN change.

Choose a story from your life where you experienced pain, reflect on it for a few minutes and then spend ten minutes writing what gifts you have because of your painful experience.  Affirm those gifts every day by writing them on sticky notes. Place those notes throughout your living space.  Daily say them out loud. At the end of your day, say them, review your day and recognize those gifts throughout your day. Thank The Divine with prayers of gratitude. 

Blessings always. Peace and all good,

Christy


(This blog is not intended to serve as individual spiritual direction. Spiritual direction or companioning is typically done face to face in a confidential setting. If you would like to explore one on one spiritual direction, or your faith community or small group would like to experience group spiritual direction, please contact me. In the meantime, my hope is that the photos and this blog serve as a pause in your day, food for thought or just a reminder to breathe in and breathe out all that is holy and good. The Divine Milieu is all around us. Thank you all for your prayers and support.)


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