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Insights from the Serenity Prayer


Kim Potgieter

Kim Potgieter

January 21, 2015
When life seems to be getting too much and I am not sure which way to turn, I have come to find peace in saying the serenity prayer.  Many people, whether religious or not, use it.

My father used it extensively when he started the 12-step recovery programme at Alcoholics Anonymous and it helped him stay sober for the last 17 years of his life.  It seems to help me get a little perspective on a situation, and to have an honest conversation with myself about how much control I really have.

The prayer’s origin goes back 70 years and has been translated into many different languages and is prayed by people from lands and backgrounds the world over.  So, although it may seem to be founded in religion, don’t let that put you off if you aren’t that way inclined.

It gives me peace by placing things that are happening all around me into perspective.

God grant me the serenity …

I am a searcher and continually looking to learn and grow.  These first few lines help me to feel peace, a peace that lasts and which cannot be taken away and does not depend on everything going well.  It is something in my heart that does not depend on always being happy but knowing all is well.

To accept the things I cannot change …

This is where my real challenge lies as a self-confessed A-type personality.  If you have control issues, this can be very difficult.  Almost each day we find ourselves dealing with things that are out of our control: traffic jams are good examples of this, or the weather.  There is no point in getting worked up about them because there is nothing we can do to avoid them.  More serious though, is living in the past and not being able to forgive myself for things I wished I had never said.  My most difficult tendency is wanting to change or control other people.  My mother always showed us unconditional love and daily I need to work in this area.  Showing those I love that I care and that they don’t necessarily have to do things my way.  Having three headstrong children is a great life leveller.

The courage to change the things I can …

This is where we truly begin to love our whole selves, not just the nice parts.  We tend to criticise others to avoid what needs to be changed in ourselves.  We recognise others’ weaknesses when those are most often the areas we need to work on.  We need quietly to take the time
to look honestly at ourselves and embrace the never-ending journey of personal change and transformation.

And the wisdom to know the difference …

We feel that knot in our stomachs, or find ourselves lying awake at night, not being able to
switch off.  We need our innate wisdom to solve the dilemmas in our lives.  This wisdom is deeper than knowledge.  Many people are academically clever but this is more about relationships and living a happy and genuinely peaceful life.  We need to listen to our thoughts and feelings to get this wisdom.

Each of us will use this prayer in a different way as we all have our own personal beliefs but this is a guide so use it however best it serves you.

I do believe we are the most use to others when we feel a personal peace and lead by example.

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