Monday, April 20, 2009
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.
Long before Alcoholics Anonymous adopted this prayer as their own, my Grandma Birthday claimed it. As a little girl, I remember seeing a beautiful plaque with the words of this simple prayer on her wall. I did not fully understand the words when I was young. I do now. There is a lot of power packed in those few lines.
I have noticed a reoccurring theme in my life recently. A conversation that I have repeated many times in the last two weeks. With Bob. With my best friend. With myself. With God. I don't like doing hard things. My wise husband summed up, "I want the mountain top experience without having to climb the mountain." As for me, I would prefer to take a little pill right now to make my heart feel happier. And I would also prefer liposuction and a lapband than continuing in my futile attempts to rid myself of pernicious belly fat at five thirty in the morning. I think a house cleaner and a laundress to keep on top of the piles and loads around here is in order. Who wants to clean house in this lovely spring weather? I would like to enjoy a vibrant spiritual life without having to pick up my cross and daily follow my Savior in obedience even in the little things, thank you very much. I am a selfish sluggard. I know it. I reluctantly acknowledge the ill consequences of this very fact. But I just don't want to do anything about it. I don't have it in me.
I used to think if I just had enough faith, I could pray my way out of doing hard things. Or maybe I thought I wouldn't have to face them at all? That didn't last long. Then I tried the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" technique for a while. Bought into the whole,"God helps those who help themselves" theory. Became a regular legalist trying to save my own soul. That didn't get me very far either. So here I am today, a firm believer in Grace alone. I've got nothing in me that can earn the free gift of Grace. I can never repay the favor. I realize my worth entirely because I finally (sort of) understand the Price my Master paid for me. But here is where I get tripped up: I do sincerely want to be known for accomplishing great and heroic things, hard things (for His pleasure, my God's reputation-not just mine). I just don't want to do the work required to actually DO them. You know what I mean? I want it to be easier. Less messy. Way less effort and endurance on my part, if you don't mind.
Alas, I am old enough to know better. Life is not like that. Bryan and I talked about this stuff. I never quite figured out how to convince him of my hopefulness, my enduring optimism (the right word is faith). I firmly believe that though I am a work in progress, He who began it all will be faithful to complete it in His perfect time. I will be made beautiful. And God's definition of beautiful, for those of you who may think it means resembling Angelina Jolie, is to look like His sweet Son Jesus. I could never convey that to Bryan when we talked of these things without sounding simple. My brother wanted to do hard things, good things, be a noble heroic person. Just like me. Something we shared in common. He was somewhere in the middle of the learning curve that I just described when God decided to complete the work and take him home. I don't know why. I can't fathom why I am still here trying to figure it out and his race is done.
Back to Grandma Birthday's prayer, because that is how I think of the Serenity Prayer in my brain, I remembered those curly calligraphied words on her wall. And I prayed them for myself today. Bryan doesn't need me to pray for him anymore. I don't have to try to convince or explain these thoughts to him to be understood. He gets it all. Where once he saw in part like I am left to do today, he sees completely now. I envy Bryan. So I seek the Lord to help be peaceful in the face of things beyond my control: my 6 feet tall Amazon stature, an aversion to olives, my children's inability to hang up their towels after showering, my brother's death (you didn't expect me to be THAT vulnerable, did you?). I pray today for courage, His strength, to do hard things, even when I don't really want to. And God help me with a healthy dose of wisdom today as I try and figure out which is which.
Posted by Reilly Fitzpatrick at 6:16 PM