Saturday, July 14, 2018

Weekend Inspiration: Finding Serenity (Again)

The Serenity Prayer

Philippians 4:6-7
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

I am halfway through teaching another online course through  Once again, the text for this course is Trevor Hudson's book, The Serenity Prayer. In this book, Trevor devotes one chapter to each line of the prayer and discusses its application in our lives as we search for serenity. Most people are very familiar with the first four lines of the prayer. But, perhaps you didn't realize that there are actually several more lines. Here is the entire text of the Serenity Prayer, believed to have been written by Reinhold Niebuhr:

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; 
Trusting that He will make all things right 
If I surrender to His Will; 
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life 
And supremely happy with Him 
Forever and ever in the next. 
It is a beautiful prayer and one that I return to time and again in my daily life. I do find it interesting (and ironic) that the time I have scheduled to teach this course inevitably always ends up being a time in my life when there is very little serenity. This is my third time teaching the course and, once again, this rings true. In previous posts I have mentioned a family member who recently had three surgeries. She continues to recuperate well, for which we are thankful, and relies heavily on my husband and I for emotional support. It has been a challenging time for all of us. In addition, there have been other calls on our time with house projects, decision making, this course I am now teaching and a "new addition" to our family. (More on that in a future post!) Perhaps you can relate to the busy-ness of life which can bring exhaustion and rob one of their serenity! 

In Trevor's book, when he discusses living one day at a time and enjoying one moment at a time, he talks about the difference between the words "nowhere" and "now here."  By the simple addition of just one space, we can focus on the present-on being "now here" rather than finding ourselves "nowhere" except in a ball of nervous frenzy! I have really thought a lot during this teaching session about the "now here" concept. We surely can't enjoy one moment at a time if we aren't focused on the here and now where we find our self. And there is almost always some small thing to enjoy, or at least to be thankful for, even when not so great things are happening. 

To illustrate this, Trevor tells the story of a man being chased by a bear off a cliff. The man sees a branch as he falls and clings to it for dear life. However, when he looks up, he sees that the bear is swatting at him from above and a mountain lion arrives below him and is lunging for him from below. To top it all off, he realizes a badger is gnawing away at the branch he is clinging to for dear life. Talk about a horrible scenario! As the man clings to the branch he looks over and notices hanging there the most beautiful strawberry he has ever seen. Hanging on with one hand, he reaches over, picks the strawberry, and puts it in his mouth. "Aah, delicious," he says, realizing that it is the most wonderful strawberry he has ever tasted!

Although I'm not sure that I would have even had the courage to let go of the branch long enough to reach for the strawberry, the point of this story is important to me. Even when life is most hectic, or everything seems to be going wrong, there just may be a strawberry hanging nearby if we can just breathe and notice it! And in that moment of noticing, there is serenity. 

So tell me, when have you found a "strawberry" hanging nearby when life was difficult? Hope you will take a moment to share. And, if you are interested, I will be teaching this course again in September. Check out for more info!



Karen said...

I have always loved this prayer, especially the expanded version. Often in my life my loudest cry has been: "I just want some PEACE!!!" There is more than enough chaos to go around in our busy lives. I am (still) learning that our times of weakness and distress are those times when we draw closer to God. Through these times we learn and we grow, and we become more dependent on the Source of our comfort, as it should be. Last week at the dentist I was talking with the hygienist about our same age moms and how it can be rough. I told her I feel like I'm always praying for patience. She said instead of patience, pray for compassion, that patience is too fleeting. So I did. Walking into my mom's place, I prayed to have compassion instead. Put myself in HER place. It made such a difference. God knows our weaknesses and He also knows how He will bring us through. Trying now to rest in that knowledge. I'm slowly reading through this prayer today, thank you for the reminder.

Sharon said...

What a wonderful post, Debbie! I am going to try and remember the "strawberry" story. That illustrates so well enjoying the small moments no matter what else is going on.

Debbie Styles Life said...

Thanks Sharon and Karen. I'm glad you like the strawberry story. And, Karen, I really like your comment about praying for compassion. Having patience in a difficult situation can be tough, but having compassion for the person really puts a different spin on what we are doing for them.