Years ago, I learned the serenity prayer. It goes like this. God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. The courage to change the things I can. And the wisdom to know the difference.
I've spent decades working on mastering the three lines of this simple prayer, and in times of life such as I'm going through now, it's useful. So, let's break it down.
First comes Serenity. This is a peaceful state wherein you feel calm and untroubled, even when there's an external storm brewing all around you. It's a fact that people close to you have agency, and what they do affects you. And sometimes, super bad and painful stuff just happens out of the blue. In these cases, there is absolutely nothing you can do about what's happening to you except choose how you will react to it.
Admitting that you're powerless to change or control the situation isn't easy. I've found that I usually can't do it by myself! I need help, so I pray until I can "let go" and "receive" (actually FEEL) the peace Jesus Christ offers. That's the only way I can quickly let go of a painful situation and get to a place of feeling genuine serenity and acceptance in my heart.
Next, we have Courage. Courage is the ability to remain strong in the face of grief or pain. It's the act of stepping over your fears and doing something hard or challenging for the betterment of all. When you're going through something unpleasant or difficult, it can take courage to face it and be honest with yourself about what's going on. It's easy to blame something or someone else for the problem, but that won't fix anything, and it certainly won't make your own life feel better.
The only way to effectively resolve the issue is to take a personal inventory and determine what you can do to improve things. Coming up with a self-improvement plan and following through on it takes courage. It takes the blame off other people and situations and causes YOU to become responsible and do whatever it takes to create your future happiness. Taking the blame off others and choosing to look forward with increased self-responsibility and hope for a brighter future ahead is courageous. The bonus here is that it's also one of the most rewarding and "growing" things you can do for yourself!
And last, there is Wisdom. This is a high-quality type of knowledge and good judgment; the reward, if you will, comes from living through "challenging" life experiences and learning the painful lessons associated with them.
Wisdom is something you can't buy or get any other way other than by going through some level of a refiner’s fire. And the fiercer the fire, the more wisdom available to be gained. Wisdom is far more valuable than gold. It's worth going through any level of heartache and headache for. Wisdom refines you and allows you to stand back and see the big picture objectively. It helps you see things much more clearly than you'd be able to see otherwise.
When I was twenty, serenity, courage, and wisdom were just words to me. Even though I was familiar with them and knew their meanings, I hadn't internalized what it meant to live them. Forty years later, I know them intimately, and I believe this is a gift. I am genuinely grateful for everyone and everything that's thrown a curveball in my path because it's all taught me what it means to live with serenity and courage, and it's netted me a whole lot of priceless wisdom!
An important truth I've learned is I am weak, and I make mistakes, but my God is good and powerful, and when I turn to Him, He helps me and makes up the difference! It's taken a whole lot of me praying and asking God to enlighten and strengthen me (especially during hard times) to help me gain the significant amount of serenity, courage, and wisdom I have today. Prayer and meditation have been essential for shaping me and enabling me to deal with the challenges of life gracefully.
I don't know what lies ahead, but I do know that I've got living the serenity prayer down, and because of that, no matter what happens, I'm equipped to get through it and then go on to THRIVE!