Some moments of my day are peaceful, and I feel serene. At those times I believe in the concept of serenity, and praying the “Serenity Prayer” is easy.
But then there are other moments in my day when something happens and things just get out of control and I think I’m losing it! Sometimes it’s my own doing – giving way to negative emotions of anger or frustration. Sometimes it is when I encounter some new medical emergency and don’t have a clue how to handle it, and other times life just gets messy and I wish I didn’t have to deal with it.
So how do we remain “serene” in the midst of chaos or sadness or stress or difficulties?
Google dictionary defines “serene” as calm, peaceful, and untroubled; tranquil. Does it say being serene will make our troubles go away? Absolutely not. But we do want to remain calm in the midst of trouble. That is our goal.
A dear friend reminded me recently of the “Serenity Prayer” and how helpful it can be in times of stress. The more I thought about it, the more I realize that it applies to all of humanity, no matter our age or circumstance. So each of us can apply it to our lives right now – to our situation.
For the caregiver, the first part of the prayer is the most important. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change . . .” Whatever disease or condition our loved one has may leave us feeling helpless because we cannot control it. Yes, sometimes we can do things to slow the progress, but much of the future is out of our control.
What happens moment by moment in our homes is often out of our control. Accidents happen, spills happen, falls happen, messes happen, and while we always try to prevent them, some are bound to happen. Some are not preventable. They are out of our control. We cannot change the fact that they will happen, just as we cannot prevent a degenerative disease from degenerating. So we have to accept it.
But there are things I can change, like the second phrase of the prayer, “Courage to change the things I can. . .” There are a few things I have control over. Sometimes I have to make a list to help me see that there is hope and that I can take steps to improve my life. And even with all of that, I accept that some of those things will not happen, which takes us back to the first part of the prayer. But some will , and I can celebrate those changes in my life. The changes may be minor and seem insignificant to some, but if they bring me joy, they are positive changes!
And that takes us to end of the prayer, “And the wisdom to know the difference.” For me, the issue is not knowing the difference as much as it is remembering that there are 2 distinct categories – things I CANNOT change, and things I CAN change. My problem is focus. I tend to focus on things I CANNOT change, while forgetting that I can make a difference in other areas of my life. Sometimes I need to just let those first things go. If I cannot change it, why focus on it?
The purpose of this blog has always been to support and encourage those who care for someone with Parkinson’s Disease or some other chronic or degenerative disease. However, the Serenity Prayer is for everyone. It is a reminder that while there are many things out of our control, they should not consume us nor cause us to lose joy. Instead, we should change what we can to make life better for those around us.
Thanks for reading and commenting. Have a serene week!