"And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation-- some fact of my life-- unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or sitatuion as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes."
"When I focus on what's good today I have a good day, and when I focus on what's bad, I have a bad day. If I focus on a problem, the problem increases; if I focus on the answer, the answer increases."
"Acceptance is the key to my relationship with God today. I never just sit and do nothing while waiting for Him to tell me what to do. Rather, I do whatever is in front of me to be done, and I leave the results up to Him; however it turns out, that's God's will for me.
I must keep my magic magnifying mind on my acceptance and off my expectations, for my serenity is directly proportional to my level of acceptance. When I remember this, I can see I've never had it so good."
I was searching this morning to find out when this story was written, but I did not find the answer. Dr. Paul got sober in 1967 (before I was born) and wrote this after that. It was first an article and later included in the stories in the big book of Alcoholics Anonymous. Recently there have been many books written about the words that are in here. Books that concentrate on how we can have a good life if we focus on what is good and right. The book I am currently reading to become a more focused parent, Easy to Love, Difficult to Discipline, talks about the Power of Attention: what you focus on you get more of. I love the fact that this idea is not new and also that these words I want to form my life around, are spoken in other places in other forms as words to live by. They are powerful. I am a deeply flawed individual. And when I focus on that, my mistakes multiply. When I focus on what is right, my whole life improves.
A couple other "words to live by" words for me....
|Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch; like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
|’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!
|The Lord hath promised good to me,
His word my hope secures;
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures.
|When we’ve been there ten thousand years,|
Bright shining as the sun,
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we first begun.
In my life, having joy is partly from already walking through a hell that I never want to repeat. All too often I catch myself thinking about other people who profess the grace of God but live out judgment and I think to myself.... "they don't know what it is to be a wretch like me!" I do. I know I have been a monster. I horrible person. And that I don't have to live that way today. Today I have the power of choice in my life and I have a LOT of freedoms. Freedoms from self-condemnation and fear, from the cycle that we are held to when we live our lives in anger and hatred.
The Serenity Prayer is a way of life as well. I know, it is simply an over-quoted prayer. But it is more than that.
"God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...."
Well, this part helps me realize that I am very, very human and finite and I have very little control on the world around me. Can I change the will and heart of another person? No, I am not God. Can I change the political turmoil and civil unrest that is playing out in our country today? No. I am one person.
"courage to change the things that I can...."
So what, exactly, CAN I change? me. My attitudes and actions. My heart. My choices. I can continue to weed out that things I don't want to take root in my inner soul. I can continue to look around for positive role models to pattern my actions after. I can step out of my comfort zone and make changes to the way I view life, the way I parent, the way I love others, the way I take care of business, the way I teach.
"and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen."
Is this my stuff? Or is it yours? Am I being co-dependent and taking on responsibility that is not mine? Am I trying to change something I don't have control over? Is this my stuff? Or someone else's baggage, garbage, opinion, or responsibility?
|Words that I want to live by....|
|"Abandon yourself to God as you understand God. Admit your faults to Him and to your fellows. Clear away the wreckage of your past. Give freely of what you find and join us. We shall be with you in the Fellowship of the Spirit, and you will surely meet some of us as you trudge the Road of Happy Destiny." -big book of Alcoholics Anonymous p. 164.|
Somewhere in the big book it mentions "happy, joyous and free." Believe me, this often seems to me to be out of my grasp. Grandiose. But if you look farther into the serenity prayer than the frequently quoted verse that we all know, there is a line that talks about being reasonably happy in this life.... reasonably happy. I find that something I can actually strife for. It sounds and seems attainable to me.
I have many, many other "words that speak to me." Like my OLW... momentum. Besides the powerful words in the song Amazing Grace, the words of the old hymn "It is Well" speak to me. If I trust in a God that is big and powerful and has my best interest at heart, I can have calm in the middle of chaos. Because I know.... it is well with my soul.
Wow. I got a little preachy. sorry not sorry. What a great prompt! What are the words that speak to you? Move you? Change you? What are words that you aspire to live by?