If you’ve ever been married,
Or had children,
Or been a caregiver . . .
If you’re a teacher,
Or leader of any kind . . .
Basically, if you have ever worked with anyone else in the pursuit of any worthy goal, you have probably felt what I am about to describe.
You have probably felt responsible. You have probably felt like the outcome depended on you.
And if things didn’t go as well as you’d hoped, you might have felt tempted to one or more of the following:
- Beat up yourself
- Control or manipulate
- Blame or defend
- Become depressed
- Enable or become co-dependent
How do I know this?
Yup. Been there. Done that.
Recently I was praying with someone about this sort of thing. As we were praying, the familiar “Serenity Prayer” came to mind. I couldn’t remember how it went exactly, so I looked it up. I was surprised to find part to it that I don’t remember ever seeing before. Here is both the familiar part and the part that was new to me.
God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
Living one day at a time,
Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
The part that really stuck out to me was this: “Taking, as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it, trusting that You will make all things right.”
Isn’t that profound?
Jesus, perfect as He was, did not panic because the world was sinful. He didn’t rush in to fix everything (though He, unlike me, actually could have!) He also didn’t make things miserable for people who wouldn’t do what they were supposed to do. He didn’t nag or manipulate or get all passive-aggressive. He didn’t wring His hands. He didn’t control or push. And He didn’t despair. Instead, He accepted people as they were, loved them, and entrusted them to His Father.
I don’t know why it’s taken me this long to find the rest of the “Serenity Prayer”—but I’m glad I did. I think it is going to be one of my go-to prayers for all those times when things aren’t going as I’d hoped they would and I feel responsible.
*Attributed, in various versions, to Reinhold Niebuhr