Grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time.
based on a prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr
Today at lunch a friend who knows that I am an atheist noticed that I bowed my head and clasped my hands together as if in prayer during the moment of silence and she asked me about it. I suppose it is kind of odd for an atheist to be taking the attitude of prayer during a period of time most people would expect people to pray.
I look on this brief (very brief, mind you) moment of silence as my reminder to meditate on the axiom that I have chosen to live my life by. I’ve been an atheist for more than twenty-three years but I’ve also been reciting and trying to live by the Serenity Prayer for more than twenty-seven years. My how time flies…
I learned the Serenity Prayer in Alanon in 1980. It took me several years to learn to live it. I went to Alanon because there was an alcoholic in my life, of course. More than one actually. More than a couple. I was also the adult child of an adult child of an alcoholic. Talk about fucked up.
I went to Alanon to learn how to help the alcoholics in my life stop drinking. If you want to learn the secret to this difficult but worthy endeavor I would recommend that you check out Alanon meetings in your area.
It can be incredibly hard to let go of the people, places, and things in your life that you cannot change and accept that what is, simply is, if your life has been spinning out of control for years and you have been desperately trying to control it. The disease of alcoholism certainly sends everything spinning out of control.
Then there is that next step. What can I change? As a general rule, it’s just me and the way I react to my environment. That’s it. Just me. That’s all I have control over. Trying to control the alcoholic is a lost cause. Trust me on that one. Better yet, go to Alanon and let them help you.
That’s where you’ll learn the wisdom to know the difference. There are many difficult lessons to learn about alcoholism but the biggest one is IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. Nothing you did or didn’t do caused it and nothing you do or don’t do will fix it. Accept the things you cannot change. You are powerless. That’s the first step.