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May 02 • Serenity, Sir!

Day 663


The 12 Step program has several catchy phrases that have become familiar in pop culture, even if most people don't know where they originated, or at least were popularized. That alone might be a statement about the effectiveness of the program, if not the phrases themselves. Among these pargaons of addiction wisdom are:

One day at a time Your Higher Power What you hear here leave it here ...and grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change...

They have become meaningful to my recovery as I am reminded by the words themselves, and I find strength in the practice of them. They are also the source of questions and insights that pop-up from time to time. The ones that have been nagging at me lately are found in the last two lines of the Serenity Prayer that address things that need to be corrected:

"...the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

The intelligence of that simple invocation is so apparent to me that I accepted it as bedrock early on and never really revisited its power. But recently, I've been challenged with things in my life that need to be changed, and I can't figure out how to bring about the fixes. Now, I think I've been reading it all wrong. Somehow I thought it was talking about things I need to walk away from because I have more critical recovery work to deal with and shouldn't be distracted by the things or people that need a good can of whoop-ass opened up on them. But that's very different from the injunction to "accept" those things. Once again, I see a step within the Steps that I don't know whether I can internalize. By merely turning away from things that irritate me, I'm able to maintain a bit of self-righteousness and maybe even think I'll get back to that later. But that is not what the prayer says. But that is what I've been doing. Can I really be wise enough to receive the serenity to accept things I cannot change? I don't know. I mean, I freaking do not know. My track record is not good, and frankly, my enthusiasm for such an effort leaves a bit to be desired, at least according to my history.


I fix things. There is a reason things from the program bug me in recovery, and it is rarely because they are wrong. Most of the time, it is because they touch a nerve that needs touching. I am touched. Let me try a little literary license here:

"God, please help me know the difference between things I should try to fix, and grant me the grace to accept the things I should not."

Maybe that's not a big difference, but the nuances are meaningful to me.


–JR

 

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