Saturday, March 18, 2017

Saturday Scriptures #10-Finding Serenity

The Quest for Peace and Serenity

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6  (ESV)

It's something that can be so elusive, isn't it?  One moment you're feeling great, life is going swimmingly and the skies are blue and beautiful. Everything seems peaceful and serene. Then, in a heartbeat those wonderful feelings are gone. It could be due to a phone call or an unforeseen emergency or simply due to the worries and stress of the day. But, the result is that those blue skies vanish and you are left with butterflies in the stomach and questions of "why....why is this happening?" It seems like in our world today, finding...and keeping....peace and serenity is difficult to do. 

One of the thoughts I have been pondering lately is the idea that I too often rely on peace and serenity as being a feeling rather than being a belief. Perhaps this is part of what Jesus was referring to when he told his disciples the following:

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.  John 14:27 (King James Version)

I am reminded in this scripture that the peace that Jesus offers is different from the peace the world offers. And the peace that the world offers usually comes with a feeling attached. Think of the following lines we often hear either on television or from someone around us:

"Don't leave your family uncared for in the event of your death. Buy this life insurance policy and have peace of mind in knowing that your family will be cared for."

"Try this new underarm deodorant and feel confident about being around other people."

"Try this sleep product and have peaceful sleep like you've never had before."

"Teeth not white enough? Use this product and you'll be confident with your smile and interaction with others."

"Get this free information kit on how to get a stable, secure retirement." 

All of these lines speak to finding some type of peace....whether it be the peace of financial security or the peace of self-confidence. And while financial security and self-confidence are certainly important issues....they still reflect feelings of peace that can be fleeting. The stock market falls, an unexpected bill comes, we make a social gaff that undermines our self-confidence....and that peace and serenity that we were feeling is gone. And we are back where we started.....looking for yet another avenue of peace and serenity in order to assuage our worry and uncertainty about life. 

This is what I'm talking about when I offer the idea that perhaps having peace and serenity isn't about having a certain feeling at all....but rather more about having a belief system in place that stands the test of time whether things are going right in our lives or going wrong in our lives.  

Have you heard of the Serenity Prayer? Of course you have! It's that simple prayer that we hear quoted so often:

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 prayer is often used as part of twelve step programs and can be very instrumental in helping us think through the difficulties of life. But, did you know that there are actually more lines to this prayer? Trevor Hudson, a South African United Methodist Minister, has written a book called, "The Serenity Prayer a simple prayer to enrich your life."  I am having the joy of teaching this book via an online course through this week and next week. In his book, Trevor takes each line of the Serenity Prayer, using the full text, and devotes a chapter to discussing the meaning of each line as it can be applied to our lives. He speaks of "growing the seed" of serenity in our lives and says that, "God's peace is a peace that goes beyond all human understanding. It cannot be grasped by the intellect alone but must be experienced in our hearts."  

I am slowly beginning to realize, that if I am to grow serenity in my life, I must come to terms with the idea of serenity not being a feeling....but rather a state of being. This doesn't mean that I will be walking around with a smile on my face all the time. And it doesn't mean that I'll feel happy all the time. And it certainly doesn't mean that everything in my life will just be hunky-dory all the time. But, what it does mean is that no matter what my circumstance....I will know that all is ultimately well because God is in control....not me.  

My serenity seed has been planted....and is slowly starting to grow. How about yours? 

Here is the full text of the Serenity Prayer:

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.
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,
trusting that he will make all things right
if I surrender to his will--
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with him forever. 

Blessings As You Plant Your Seed of Serenity,

*What are your thoughts about finding serenity? I hope you will share your thinking today! And please come back next Saturday for more about finding serenity. 

*This is not a sponsored post. The Serenity Prayer offers several theories of authorship including Boethius who lived in 500 CE and Reinhold Niebuhr who used this prayer in a chapel address in 1934. Some words in the prayer are also credited to Friedrick Oetinger. (Source of this information is The Serenity Prayer a simple prayer to enrich your life by Trevor Hudson.)


Karen said...

Thank you for this reminder Debbie. This is something I struggle with. I know in my heart that peace and joy and serenity do not come with feelings attached if we think of them like God does. It's a belief system, like you said. I think as humans, so in touch with our feelings as we are, we do want to feel happy or we feel we've lost our peace and joy. I tell myself these are not feelings, but I admit, I'm hard to convince!
Only when I return my focus to God in prayer can I shake the belief that I should feel happy or at least good. This devotion is a reminder that true peace is not a feeling, but it is knowing God and continuing to learn more about Him. It's a lifelong journey.

Debbie Styles Life said...

You're right, Karen. It is super hard to think of having serenity as anything other than a feeling. And I struggle with this ,too. It's only natural to want to feel happy all the time and if we don't feel happy, we feel like something is wrong. Growing that seed of serenity is a lifelong task.

julie Wunder said...

It's hard not to think that life will be better IF I do this... when we really have to have peace and serenity exactly where we are. I struggle and strive for this balance too.