The Serenity Prayer-An Exegesis

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"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. Thy will, not mine, be done."


yes, God is real. He can be addressed as such, in a conversational way. He listens, or else why even pray?


Not only is God real (a person), he is bigger than me. He's bigger-than-me enough for me to ask him to give me something that i cannot get on my own. And i can trust him enough to ask him. He is accessible to me. If i could get it on my own, why would I ask him?


Yes, there is such a thing as serenity, peace, calm, etc. Regardless of my experience, this state does exist. It is in fact, usually the polar opposite of my current state of mind; i.e. insanity. It is desirable, attainable, and tangible.


Ah....acceptance. Accept' 1. To receive (a thing offered) with a consenting mind. 2. To receive with favor, to approve. 3. To receive or admit and agree to; to assent to; as, I accept your excuse. 4. To understand; as, how are these words to be accepted? Hence, to receive as true; to believe.
Ant. Refuse, reject, decline.
(Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Fifth Edition. 1942)


Things....there are, indeed, things I cannot change. A great many things, in fact. These things are beyond my control and take up much wasted effort for no result. Changing involves transformation from one thing to another, or from one state to another. To change a thing is to make it something else, with different properties and characteristics. People, places and things cannot be transformed by me into something they are not. I do not have the power to do that, and even if I did, would it be fair?


Courage is the oft-ignored sister to serenity. Serenity without courage to change what can be changed is depravity, unrighteousness, and laziness.
And so, there is a group of things I can change, and all of them directly relate to me. I do have power over something, namely myself, my choices, etc. The one thing I can affect is myself, and it is often my last resort. It takes courage to be responsible for oneself, to admit culpability for one's actions and therefore to imply the power to change them for the better. To attempt to change what I have no power to change takes no courage, and offers an easy excuse for failure.


there's more, then. Serenity, acceptance, and courage are not enough.


Obviously, there is a marked difference between the things I can change and the things I cannot. And yet, the line becomes easily and hopelessly blurred. As I extend the boundaries of my personal responsibility to include people, places, and things outside myself, I forget where I end and they begin. Suddenly, it seems as though the only way to be happy is to change everything around me. And when I can't I become confused and frustrated. All because the line has been blurred between what i can change (myself) and what i cannot change (everything else). So it, seems, until that line reappears with some clarity, I will attempt to gain serenity by attempting to change all the wrong things. And I will fail, all good intentions aside. So wisdom to see that line, to know what I can change and what i cannot...this is key.


For me, this sums it up. I have to accept that in the things I cannot control, God's will must prevail. And even in me, the chief end of any change I undergo is to bring myself into alignment with God and his will for me, as well. Anything less is an exercise in futility.

I must accept life on life's terms. I must accept things as they are, because they cannot be anything else in this moment, the one that matters. I cannot fight it...I have no power to win. So I admit that I have no power, and defer to one who hope that he will do for me what I cannot do for myself.

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