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.
“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.”