Thoughts on the Serenity Prayer

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    Tom G

    As I’ve worked through this recovery thing, I’ve realized that I am a slow learner. I went through treatment, learned the 12 steps, memorized the Serenity Prayer, and read the first 164 pages of the Big Book. I thought I was on my way to understanding sobriety.
    Turns out, I’m finding that I learn the words and then, only later through listening and learning from others, do I start to fully understand.
    Case-in-point: having gone through treatment and nine months of AA meetings, I’ve said the Serenity Prayer hundreds of times. Only recently, through listening and learning, have I learned a valuable lesson I was missing from that prayer: the second part about “courage to change the things I can”.
    I learned how to accept the things I can not change (about me), such as, ‘I am an alcoholic”. I can’t change that. After fully accepting that, and knowing I couldn’t change that, the struggle of knowing who I really am eased and I started to feel serenity in my life.
    Then came the next part. I could accept that which I can not change, so if I saw something in a situation or other person that I didn’t like, I had to have the courage to “change” that situation or “change” the other person!
    Turns out I was missing the point of the second part of the Serenity Prayer. After listening to a speaker on Super Bowl Sunday mention Big Book page 417, I went home and read “Acceptance is the Answer” (starts on page 407).
    Right there on page 417 it was explained that we don’t need the courage to speak up and change ‘other people’; we need the courage to reach inside and change ‘ourselves’. That brought the idea of ‘acceptance’ full circle.
    I can accept who and what I am, I can change myself to accept others as they are (and the world as it is!)…now I just need the wisdom to know the difference.
    Please let me know what your thoughts are on this. I still have a long way to go in understanding and living in recovery. This seems like a great place to learn from others (that seems to be the key for me to have the gift of sobriety…learning from others!).

    Heidi Quist

    I have been through the same thing over and over it seems around my 4th year in sobriety I started to realize…I wasn’t always handing it over…letting it go…letting God…this was key for me. I started to ask God for his guidance in acceptance and to help me know what the difference is and to help me let go when I need to. For me things got much easier when I took a back seat and let God take the wheel. I have been riding happily in the backseat for over an year and things seem much easier and go smoother for me from time to time. Not sure if this helps but thank you for your post it helped me today!

    Tom G

    All thoughts and expression of experiences help. Thank you for that.

    I totally agree that turning one’s life and will over to God leads to a sane and sober life. I know that following my own will only lead me to death’s door. Each morning I say, “I’m an alcoholic. Today, I cannot drink. Lord, guide me to live your will today”. As I hit the pillow each night, I say something like, “I didn’t drink today. This was a good day”. All of that is well and good.

    During the day, though, I’ll go through periods of being angry or frustrated. I often wonder if that’s the result of me trying to put my will ahead of God’s. Or, have I damaged something inside my brain where a full day of “normal” or positive thought isn’t possible?

    Is this natural for an alcoholic? Is this something that I’ll grow out of, with enough sober time? I’m only 9 months of being sober. I’d like to know if things will naturally change for the better over time, or if how I am now will need to be accepted and just carry on.

    It sounds trite, but I really like the ‘good’ times. I’d like to know that life will be ‘good’ with some periods of down…and not the reverse.

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