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Serenity Prayer: Acceptance, Courage, and Wisdom

The Serenity Prayer is used to open up 12-Step recovery meetings. The prayer states: “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.” The three core concepts of acceptance, courage, and wisdom, are helpful reminders of the regular roadblocks in recovery that must be overcome.

Acceptance of things that cannot be changed is a problem for all people suffering from the disease of alcoholism and addiction. Many of us went to great lengths to assert control over ourselves, our substance use, and everything around us. Our attempts to control everything only served to exacerbate our drinking and drug use. The concept of acceptance is best explained in one of the personal stories in the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous entitled “Acceptance Was the Answer.” The author writes: “And acceptance is the answer to all my problems. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing, or situation—some fact of my life—unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing, or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in God’s world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.”

That is not to say that we must accept all situations as inevitability. There are times when we have the ability to make changes for the better, and in these situations, we must ask for courage. For example, we accept our addiction or alcoholism, but rather than conceding to the notion that we are doomed to an inescapable fate of jails, institutions, and death, we summon the courage to seek help and vigorously engage in a program of recovery. The decision to change our lives through recovery requires courage, as does the decision to practice the principles of recovery in all our affairs. This portion of the Serenity Prayer asks our Higher Power to give us the courage to make necessary changes in our lives so that we may live a life of happiness, joyousness, and freedom.

There will inevitable be times when we are unsure of whether we should accept things as they are or ask for courage to change the situation. The Big Book explains, “In thinking about our day we may face indecision. We may not be able to determine which course to take. Here we ask God for inspiration, an intuitive thought or a decision. We relax and take it easy. We don’t struggle. We are often surprised how the right answers come after we have tried this for a while.” By establishing a spiritual connection with our Higher Power, we find that we are able to continually make the right decisions. Each situation is unique, and we rely on our personal spiritual connection to determine which course of action to take.

Your life doesn’t have to be held back by the chains of addiction. You can make the decision to seek help today and begin building a brighter future. Resilient House, located in beautiful Shreveport, Louisiana, brings together the highest quality behavioral health and addictions specialists, holistic experts, and spiritual guides to help clients develop all the tools necessary to achieve and maintain sobriety. For information about treatment options, please call today: (833) 242-6431