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. – Reinhold Niebuhr
There are many famous and impactful prayers that people have turned to over the centuries for inspiration, guidance, and comfort. Prayers such as the 23rd Psalm, The Lord’s Prayer, the Shema (Hear, O Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One), the Irish blessing (May the Road Rise Up to Meet You,) Dr. Martin Luther King’s Prayer for the Church, and the Never Give Up prayer attributed to the XIV Dalai Lama are just some of the more well-known ones in our society.
One prayer, in particular, may be the most well-known of all. It’s the Serenity Prayer, a prayer attributed to American theologist Reinhold Niebuhr that has become part of the mainstream dialogue through its use by Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs, as well as in popular media.
It has a powerful and straightforward message: “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.” This has implications far beyond issues of addiction. It speaks to the core of life itself. Life has challenges. Financial struggles, unexpected happenings, disasters, tragedy, loss. The prayer continues with encouragement and admonition: “Living one day at a time; enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardships as the pathway to peace.”
When we lose someone we love, finding peace or serenity is often difficult as we are struggling with the pain and devastation of our loss. We find ourselves in an ocean of despair, tossed and turned by our changing emotions and longing for some calm in the storm. The Serenity Prayer is by no means an instant fix or a cure for our feelings during grief, but it does help us navigate through the raging torrents that we endure. As we focus on one day at a time, we can truly work out our grief step by step, minute by minute, and day by day, as we move closer to a point where serenity can become a reality.