The Serenity Prayer

Emotions run high at the beginning of a new year like the whirlwind of emotions at the cusp of recovery. The thought of a new start fills many with gratitude, excitement, and renewed purpose. New diaries inspire new resolutions and the fireworks that announce the dawn of another calendar year jar the complacent to action. Yet, there are still many who would rather not be reminded of the passing of time and for whom the new year casts a dark shadow. Such might be the case for those in active addiction. Broken by the difficulties of the past year, melancholy, apathy, and hopelessness dumb their senses and entrap them in a time warp. Notwithstanding the many varied emotions that ring in a new year, there is a common chord that reverberates through the human experience – a sense of powerlessness and uncertainty at the unknown. Few understand this as well as those in recovery.

Stepping into 2023 is a journey into the unseen future. Each of its 365 days unfolds second by second, moment by moment. Many of its adventures and lessons would only be appreciated in hindsight. However, from experience, we’ve learnt that our best efforts are not always enough to produce the outcome we desire; scary stuff do not only happen at Halloween; our roller coaster rides last longer than two minutes. For many in recovery, it is often a bitter reality when trust is not restored, and debts are not cancelled despite many walks through the twelve steps. These sobering reminders of our limitations challenge us to pause at the start of this new year and reflect on a Power greater than ourselves. As we contemplate the grandeur and order of nature, the mysteries of our lives and the miracle of recovery we are both humbled and empowered. This allows us to embrace the uncertainty with acceptance and hope and our limitations with courage and wisdom. This is the inspiration and beauty encapsulated in The Serenity Prayer.

For almost a century, The Serenity Prayer, has echoed from the hearts and mouths of countless people who recognized that they exist in partnership with a Power greater than themselves. These are the persons who acknowledged their need for help while doing the best they can. Many in recovery from addiction have found solace and hope in the 25 words of the shortened version. Even those who struggle with the idea of a Higher Power appreciate how their lives can be enriched by the virtues of serenity, acceptance, courage and wisdom set forth in the prayer. For those new in recovery, a life not engaging in a particular behavior or consuming a substance can seem foreign and overwhelming. For those in active addiction, resisting a craving may appear like an illusion. For family members caught up in the web of the disease of addiction, regaining a semblance of normality may seem hopeless. However, it is during these moments of uncertainty and powerlessness that we can find peace through acceptance, courage through action and wisdom through prayer.
So, as we wonder at the adventures of 2023 or contemplate what life would be like in recovery, let us acknowledge the help that is graciously given to us and boldly say:

“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;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him Forever and ever in the next.
Enjoying one moment at a time.”

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