God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
courage to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.
I typed those lines from childhood memory. That prayer has been with me ever since. Even as a gradeschooler, I knew my life-long goal was serenity in a chaotic world.
Decades later, I discovered the Enneagram. I know it’s all the rage right now, but for good reason; its pegs humanity’s nine personality types through the core beliefs of the types, the wounds they suffer from, and the healing they seek.
I’m a number One: The Reformer. I want to make this world a better, more beautiful place. Which is a teensy bit exhausting and mostly impossible. Zero surprise that the life pursuit of a One is serenity. Can we say #challenge?
This year, we need the Serenity Prayer not just as a decoupage over the guest bed, but as cosmic light show illuminating our dark skies.
A few nights after the Oregon fires had ravaged friends’ homes just miles away, and another news cycle featuring Angry Everybody made me want to move to the Yukon Territory without the Internet, I found myself awake in the wee hours, whispering the Serenity Prayer over and over again until—much later—I finally fell back asleep.
Honestly, the more authentic version of that prayer often sounds like the character George Costanza from Seinfeld screaming, “Serenity Now!”
We can yell two words.
We can whisper three lines over and over.
May we pray the prayers. May we also do the work to heal our own wounds so that we don’t wound others from our unresolved pain and so that we can bring our healthy selves to serve a hurting world from a place of forgiven wholeness seeking to restore instead of retaliatory brokenness seeking to destroy.
(And may we have a bit of serenity!)