The Wisdom to Know the Difference
The title of this post is lifted from the beloved Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr and for me, is the precursor to surrender.
The lines preceding this one are clear-cut in their instruction . . . accept the things I cannot change, change the things I can . . . but the wisdom line, well, it’s a little bit murky for me.
A Serenity Prayer story
The last two months have been challenging following the loss of my job. I know many of you can relate, especially those of you who are passionate about your work. When you have a dream career and your job suddenly becomes non-existent, a piece of you sort of dies.
The job is a great part of you are as a person. It’s a natural fit in your life . And then one day, in a matter of 30 minutes, who you are, maybe even what you are, vanishes.
Or at least it feels that way for a while.
Over the course of the next days and weeks, you work through it, maybe even uncover a sense of unexpected relief. After all, seldom do we like every part of our work. With me, I had long ago grown weary of traveling for work–I’d been a sky-flyer for the better part of 30 years–so I was okay with letting go of that part of my work.
You start making the changes you can. Maybe you decide to move in a brand new work direction or finally decide to live your life’s dream. Those steps are relatively easy.
You’ve even accepted most of what you can’t change and work toward making lemonade out of lemons.
And still, there’s one thing, maybe more, that lies in the muck between what you can’t change and what you can. You struggle with it, inwardly knowing you should let it go, but you also believe the old adage that you must do everything you can to eliminate any future regrets.
So you search for something–anything–to make the unacceptable acceptable. You spend countless hours researching, talking to qualified professionals, pursuing all options.
You lose sleep and serenity.
Control slips from your grip yet you clutch and grab for the fraying strings of what you hope will be the one answer that eludes you.
When you least expect it, the wisdom comes.
I was sitting in a business meeting at my 12-step group over the weekend. As is our custom, we opened the meeting with The Serenity Prayer. 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.
The letters hit my mind in flashing caps. I knew I was done. It was time to unlock the vise grip I held on what I instinctively knew I couldn’t have.
Suddenly the only thing that mattered was letting go.
Thanks to the wisdom to know the difference, I finally could.