The Serenity Prayer – Reinhold Niebuhr
God, give us 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.
Have you ever witnessed someone you love or care deeply about continually do something that even they acknowledge as stupid? They continue no matter how much you try to reason with them.
Most of you know what I’m talking about before I even spell it out, I reckon.
My twenty five year old daughter (no longer my stepdaughter – Yasmin calls me Dad, nowadays) has a professional occupation, her own car, rents her own place, is very attractive, has a good figure…well, she’d have no problem finding a new man if she wanted to.
So why is Yasmin still keeping with her boyfriend who even she describes as very immature. None of her friends have good words to say about him but there he still is in her life.
I won’t tell her how to live her life. I don’t believe that controlling another person’s life is an act of love. I have gently advised her that she is possibly wasting a big chunk of her life as she would not be confident that he would have sufficient empathy to help one of their children suffering an emotional crisis at, say, thirteen years old. I won’t tell her what to do but let her consider whether she is just wasting her time.
Yes, it is so hard to give others the latitude to live their own lives. However, this is what decent human beings do for the ones that they love and care about.
I was thinking of The Serenity Prayer penned by Reinhold Niebuhr this week.
With Yasmin, I can sleep easy knowing that she isn’t the victim of domestic violence or some other barbaric practice, but is only putting herself through unnecessary mental pain.
But what of those who cannot help themselves? What of those school aged girls who are first raped and then forced to marry their rapists under pressure from their families? What of the child soldiers forced to shoot their own parents? What of the innocent civilians maimed by previously unexploded cluster bombs? What of those victims of the modern slave trade?
There are millions of girls, boys, women and men who are living through everyday hell with no means to save themselves. This has always been true of this World. However, I find it more the stuff of nightmares nowadays as we are living in the twenty first century.
All I can do is to change the things that I can change and accept that I cannot rescue the World. If my actions can relieve the suffering of just one person, then my life will have been worth a great deal.
If half of the population of the United Kingdom joined me in this then the lives of 30 million people around the World will have been improved forever. And what if half the inhabitants of each relatively rich and free western country improved the life of one other person? How much better the world would be.
On my own I cannot change the world A multitude of willing if meagre efforts from the millions also living in the same society as me can save the oppressed in this World.
On the plus side for Yasmin, her boyfriend did spoil her with several gifts for her birthday. If he can be a bit more considerate of other people’s feelings then he too will be improving the world around him.
There is hope for this. He isn’t a vindictive or bad person. Hopefully, he’ll wake up one morning and just curse himself for acting before thinking of other people’s feelings. I do actually think he is capable of that.