“The Serenity Prayer”
God, Grant me the Serenity
To accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things that I can
And 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.
The first time I really listened to and heard “The Serenity Prayer” and truly believed it could work for me was when I walked back into the rooms of a 12-step meeting in 2006 after a nine-month relapse. I was bankrupt spiritually, mentally, physically, and financially, and thoroughly convinced I was a real addict and alcoholic. I was willing to do anything the second time around and, God willing, the last.
When I was in active addiction, I was constantly trying to fix, manage, and control everything and everyone to deflect and avoid the pain of looking at my own shortcomings and character defects. This prevented me from living in the will of God. How could one ever enjoy any moment of any day when bombarded with the constant obsession of the next drink and drug along with the lying, cheating, and stealing.
I wasn’t living life the way it was intended. I was dying a slow and painful death at my own hands and slowly killing those around me with my selfish, dishonest motives and behaviors. They had had enough and so had I. I was at the end of my rope and all I had to do was let go and trust.
There was a fork in the road and I had to take it. On that day in 2006, I humbly offered my whole self to God and the words of this prayer spoke to my heart and pierced it. At that moment I suddenly realized that God desired so much more of me and had a plan for my life. It isn’t always easy, but with each hardship comes a deeper awareness that God is my rock.
He is my Savior and my shield. He protects me from sin and harm toward myself and others. With the spiritual principles offered through the Twelve Steps, Catholic In Recovery meetings, and the sacraments, I began to discover that a life lived well demanded surrender, acceptance, and change. Living this way offers hope and the promise of joy and peace as I journey toward healing my past (which have now become my greatest assets and are used to help others).
Maybe you’re curious like I was as to who wrote “The Serenity Prayer.” To this day there remains somewhat of a mystery as to who the actual author was who penned these powerful words so many years ago. It has been credited to almost every theologian, philosopher, and saint known to mankind.
It was discovered and adopted as the opening prayer in 1941 by the founders of Alcoholic Anonymous and passed along through the years to countless other recovery fellowships. The founders of AA, Bill W. and Dr. Bob, knew firsthand that an active prayer life along with “cleaning house” and working with others were elements to staying sober. Bill W. said, “The Serenity Prayer has been a most valuable building block–indeed, a cornerstone.”
We hear in the Gospel of Matthew, “Wherever two or three are gathered I am there in their midst” (18:20). This is why each meeting begins with “The Serenity Prayer” and ends with the greatest prayer of all time, “The Lord’s Prayer.”
So, whether you stay in the rooms of recovery or not, I can almost guarantee that “The Serenity Prayer” will remain with you forever. The power and the impact behind each word is worthy of a deeper reflection, which is why I hope you take a minute and ponder “The Serenity Prayer” and its deeper meaning. And, lastly, maybe the writer of the prayer was meant to remain anonymous. I definitely think so.
Kathleen Ann, by God’s grace, has been clean and sober since June 1, 2006. She is an active member of AA, CIR, and works part-time as the Project Rachel Coordinator in the Life office at the Diocese of Rockford, where she helps gently and confidentially guide those wounded by abortion to hope and healing in Christ Jesus. On most days you can find her at daily Mass, the gym, or caring for the needs of her family, young and old alike.