the serenity closet

Just another traveler on life’s highway hanging out in the slow lane.  It’s quiet.  It’s peaceful.  Beyond the horizon is rest beckoning me.  Green pastures, still waters, my cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me.

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“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change…….”

Back then, I launched myself into the world, as I knew it, with a fervent determination to change everything that was wrong, right every injustice, and set every errant soul on the right path.  Oh, the fact that I was drunk most of the time did not change my resolve.  Every night with a bottle or two of my favorite wine, I sat at the kitchen table late into the night writing my letters to the editor sharing the world as Larry Paul Brown saw it.

Back then, not much of my writing got published.  Some things just don’t change, do they?  Today, as a sober man, I continue to write, but my efforts are tempered by accepting “the things I cannot change.”  Those unchangeable things are, well, unchanging.  Infinite wisdom, not mine but that of a Higher Power, tells me the truth of this world and it is my choice to accept that truth or keep on spinning my wheels in futile attempts to right all the wrongs.

The savior complex led me into many situations where I was not qualified to guide, direct, or even advise.  My walk through sobriety has worked for me, why should it not work for you?  “Listen up, pilgrims.  This is how you do it.”  Many disappointments and much heartbreak later, I finally latched on to the first line of the Serenity Prayer in earnest.  I learned to approach life with the question, “what can I not change?”  And guess what?  My serenity closet suddenly became a mansion.

I cannot change you and your way even when I assuredly know my way is better.  I cannot change the world; I can only strive to make MY WORLD a better place in which to live.  And, no matter how much I regret about my past, I cannot change the past; I can only change the person I was in that regrettable past.

Anyone can build their own mansion with a spacious serenity room overlooking the beauty of the world outside, aware of the ugliness in that world, yet wise enough to know what can and cannot be changed.  Go to that quiet place, inventory the inner peace or turmoil and ask for the wisdom to know the difference between things that cannot be changed and things that ought to be changed.  Usually the wise answer will direct an action looking inward at change within rather than outward at change in others.  Change my thinking, my perception, my speech, my behavior.

A favorite verse in the wisdom writings of Judaism is Psalm 46:10:

“Be still and know that I am God…..”

Got to that room in the spacious mansion of sobriety, sit down, shut up, and listen to the voice of a Higher Power speaking.  Then, kneel in perfect submission with,

“Yes Lord, Thy will, not mine, be done.”

brilliance

 

 

 

toil and trouble

Staying out of trouble does not come naturally for me.  Advancing age eliminates most of the physical temptations but, my mind still functions at full throttle and sometimes I get in over my head with the ego employing many of my character defects in very unspiritual ways.  I can’t help it; the devil makes me do it. CANDLE

Truthfully, there is no one to blame except myself.  I have experienced the mercy and grace of a loving and forgiving Father who stood with me in the depths of my personal hell of alcoholism and then led me miraculously to a life of recovery.  That Father traveled with me to the “far country” or, perhaps, he led me there to change the incorrigible reprobate which I had become into a man willing to heed the wisdom of a higher power’s truth.

Staying out of trouble nowadays means keeping my mind on the important things in life, observing the troubling events of life, sorting the two like dirty laundry and putting whites in this pile for a bleach wash and heavily soiled colors in the other pile.  Wash and tumble dry.  It’s a simple household chore that can become a wardrobe fiasco if I don’t pay attention to the need to separate the two.  Just as bleach will change my favorite blue jeans, issues beyond my control will color my attitude if allowed to fester.

So it is with serenity and peace of mind.  Simple attention to the essentials of clearing the trash and sprucing up the pretty things will keep my spiritual house in good order.  When there’s a thought to launch a verbal assault on someone’s opposing opinion, I must observe that thought, process it in a bath of compassion, and then let it go.  No, Larry does not always do that and the results are predictable.  I feel initially victorious, then questioning, then angry with myself for not walking that mile in the other person’s shoes to gain insight into his/her mindset.

I have yet to master the art of ego denial, the need to be right, the desire to have the last word.  My Father tells me that it is unnecessary to come out on top and often I will argue, “But you don’t understand, this is very important, I must retaliate to validate who I am.”

“Really?  Larry, are you saying that My validation is not enough for you, that My mercy and grace will not suffice?”

The need to jump into the fires of political turmoil, the need to feel I am the last champion of a pressing social dilemma, the need to correct an errant theology all become festering soul sores if I don’t run them through the laundry first.  Let God do the sorting and I can then start the washing machine.

When all things are viewed first through the eyes of a Higher Power, my life can be serene and peaceful.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7 smiley 3