Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Serenity Prayer (in full)

I came across "The Serenity Prayer," attributed to Reinhold Niebuhr, in its entirety. You see plenty of bookmarks and wall plaques with the first four lines. I guess the whole thing's too long to stitch on a sampler. Here's the whole thing.

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.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time,
accepting hardship as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world as it is,
not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
and supremely happy with Him forever
in the next.

In reading that again, my hope is that I don't resign myself too quickly to line 2. It's easy to give up because we're convinced there's nothing that can be done to change things for the better. Sure, there's such thing as banging your head against a brick wall, but if your head's hard enough maybe you'll make a dent and with others' help you might just get through.

I do like lines 5 and 6, about living and enjoying life as it comes, as best you can. And lines 7, 8, and 9 tell me that there is crap in the world that we have to deal with and struggle through, but I know we don't go it alone. And I don't just mean that God is there with us, perhaps carrying us like the sappy "footprints" poem says. We have each other, families, friends, faith communities who accompany us, and we accompany others in their times of need.

I pray that I have the trust of line 10. I believe I do, and that God gives me that faith. Line 11 tends to be a tough one. Surrendering just doesn't seem to be part of the human DNA, at least not mine. Am I right or wrong? Don't we fight for our independence, to do it "My Way"? To try to discern "His will" and to surrender and follow is hard. Again, I pray that God gives me the will and the way to do that.

I wonder about lines 12, 13, and 14. It might be semantics, but I think there's a whole lot to the meaning. What I'm getting at is the difference between this world and the next. Sure, we believe and hope in a "new heaven and new earth." But isn't being in a faith relationship with God about rebirth and a start to the "supremely happy" part already now in this life? I don't mean that we're guaranteed "happy, happy, joy, joy" our whole lives long, that we have to put on a brave face and smile in all kinds of adversity. But I think that living in the trust and hope that we have an eternity with God can give us glimpses of that supreme happiness already. I don't buy the idea that God's grace saves us for something someday somewhere out there. I believe we're saved and given new life and new joy for this life now, to continue in eternity.

No comments: