"If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you..." James 1:4
The Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Neihbur is likely repeated thousands, perhaps millions of times each week in recovery settings of all shapes and sizes throughout this country and probably around the world.
I first became familiar with this prayer when my mother in law (who is now at peace in the arms of Jesus) proudly scotch taped it on the front of her side by side refrigerator as she reached out in desperation to the Lord to help her conquer the relentless foe of addiction. Relentless is a pretty accurate adjective to describe the enemy of our souls. Whether it's substance addiction, sexual addiction, anxiety, depression, co-dependency, rejection (the list could go on and on) the determination of Satan to bring us down one way or another is merciless.
The prayer begins with that familiar introduction - "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. Courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference..." No matter how many times I repeat these thoughtful words, I always land in the same spot - "AND WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE." Maybe I get stuck there because I've spent so much time in trying to figure out the difference between what I can change and what I can't.
In my twenties and early thirties I thought I knew so much. The older I get the more I realize that I don't know. I thought that if everyone would do things the way I was doing them (or planning on doing them anyway) the world would be a much better and more well adjusted place. Maybe I didn't actually voice that attitude but trust me - it was in there. Several times in my journey I fell face first into a puddle of brokenness. Sometimes it was my own foolishness and other times it was as a result of someone else's choices that overflowed into my world. Brokenness. Yes, it started to become a familiar camping spot on my journey. Maybe that's a good thing. It's humbling to often have to admit how really clueless you are.
I started asking for wisdom from the Lord to know the difference between what I could and couldn't change--in myself and in others. I realized that admitting I couldn't change some things or people in my life didn't mean that He (emphasis on "He") couldn't or wouldn't change them. And then I started doing something that was at first so contrary to my nature that it made me very uncomfortable. I started giving up--not on life or people or God. No, I started giving up on my ability within my own flesh to fix everyone and everything in my life. I'm still learning little by little exactly what that means but so far it's a much smoother ride.
I love the NIV translation of James 1:4, "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you."
I do. I did. And he continues to give.