Wisdom to know the difference

God 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;
Accepting hardships 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.

–Reinhold Niebuhr

I’m convinced that a lot of the things that make us anxious and stress us out are not our responsibility – they’re not for us to worry about.  Speaking as someone who sometimes cares too much, who’s concerned about how things affect others, more than how they affect myself, I can easily drive myself crazy over things that I don’t need to be worrying about.  We often want to control things that are either not ours to control or that we plain can’t control – a lot of us have control issues of one sort or another.  We’re more often than not called to focus on the little things, but we want to change the big things.  We underestimate the affect being faithful in little things has;  the impact that changing our own attitudes has on our surroundings.

Yet, it is a balance.  Concern over circumstances can be a sign of caring deeply.  Believe me, I’m all in favor of mourning with those who mourn and rejoicing with those who rejoice, and experiencing righteous indignation over injustice; but that’s not what I’m talking about.  Over and above caring for others, we’re called to worry and care for ourselves (not in an arrogant or narcissistic way!), for that is the only way we can be effective in anything we do, including being of any good to others.  We’re also called to submit to one another and to be respectful of the positions God has placed each of us in, without overstepping into others’ roles.

Over the years I’ve become more and more fond of the Serenity Prayer.  It speaks a profound truth about surrendering things to God – something I personally sometimes have difficulty with.  I think many of us do.  Make this prayer a part of your life as well, as we navigate this life where achieving balance is very difficult, and keeping things in tension is often important.



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