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.I once led a ToughLove group discussion where I talked about that prayer we prayed each week and examined seven words from the prayer. He is a (word-by-word) recap of what I said:
- God: The Westminster Catechism defines as a spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth. If you are going to ask for help you need to ask somone who is willing and able to help.
- Serenity: Synonyms are calmness, tranquillity, peacefulness, quietness, uncloudedness. Worry is the opposite of serenity; a frustrated attempt to “do something”. When we act out of worry and other emotions we create more problems. When we act out of serenity we can have confidence in our actions.
- Accept: To receive willingly or favorably, agree to, concur with, release. Wanting a “normal” life causes us to deny the way things really are. Only when we “accept” can we focus on the things we can change.
- Change: To make different. Often we want things to be different as long as we don’t have to change. If we always do what we’ve always done, we’ll get what we’ve always got.
- Courage: The ability to meet danger or opposition with fearlessness, calmness and firmness. The most courageous word in our language is often “no” (i.e. to old habits). Sometimes we need encouragement from others to support our actions.
- Wisdom: Synonyms are discernment, judgment, uncommon-sense. Like serenity, wisdom often comes through patience and experience. Wisdom often comes from other people who have “been there” before.
- Know: To be sure of, understand, recognize, distinguish between. To act or not to act - often our knowing is less than perfect. Often we can rationalize ourselves out of doing something we know to do.