This prayer goes like this: “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.” This prayer is usually used to call a meeting to order. It is a most helpful prayer especially in times of doubt or uncertainty.
First of all, I have to realize I cannot change some things. I cannot get the Internal Revenue Service from taking some of my hard-earned money. I cannot make certain people do what I want them to do. I have to be able to ascertain what I cannot change. This begins with my addiction. Until I accepted the fact that I was an alcoholic/addict I was compelled to keep on drinking and using. Upon admitting this fact about myself, I placed myself in a position of reasonableness and was given the grace to stop drinking. The prayer says the “serenity to accept,” not the hysteria or belligerence usually associated with a need to change something toxic in our lives. Upon my admission of powerlessness and seeing my drinking as an insane act was I able to begin my journey of change. The higher power did for me what I could not do for myself. That was to remove my desire to drink and use drugs.
Courage is underrated at times in the fellowship. It takes real courage to walk into a room full of strangers and verbally admit that I am an alcoholic. However, this is the necessary act required to begin the process of recovery. We all may admit that change is uncomfortable. Even good changes can leave us in a state of worry and concern. We are always waiting for the other shoe to drop. Little did we know that the other shoe dropped upon our public admission that we were alcoholics.
The wisdom to know the difference can be a little tricky. We may have all kinds of unrealistic expectations of what recovery is all about. We may think that now I will win the Lotto! Or my chronic health condition will magically disappear. Or my relationship may take a turn for the best. Sure, these things can happen but somethings I just cannot change. I can’t stop Gladys from singing too loudly and off key in church. This may drive me batty, but it is something I just have to accept. It would be very presumptuous for me to point out her shortcomings in this department. Remember we don’t want to step on people’s toes any longer. We are trying to keep our side of the street clean when it comes to all of our relationships.
So, we take the steps and apply the program to our lives. We learn to pick our battles and no longer take on the world single handedly. We are able to ask the Higher Power for guidance and direction when it comes to having the wisdom to know the difference in what we can and cannot change. And another great gift of the program is that we are able to wait until the right decision comes to light.