The Prayer

The Prayer

It always surprises me how many people don’t know it.

It also surprises me how many do.

When I first heard the Serenity Prayer, there was no personal link to addiction.

In 1992 my work with a local health system landed me at the ribbon-cutting of the region’s first inpatient, substance use treatment center, called Pathways.   After the event, we handed out tokens imprinted with the Serenity Prayer.

The tiny gift got tucked away with a myriad of others, now long missing in the decades since.

But some 15 years later the words of that prayer came rushing back.

In his high school years my son fell ill to addiction.  A Pathways colleague, who saw what was happening, gently took me aside.  She suggested that not only did my son need help, but I did, too.  She repeated the prayer to me.

It wasn’t until I began attending Al-Anon shortly afterwards that the words of the prayer resonated.  During those early meetings, I sat mostly mum, trying to understand how all these people could survive the anguish of addiction in their lives.  I listened and watched how they discerned the things they could and couldn’t change.

Today, because of the pandemic and the fear, worry and isolation that are so reminiscent of addiction’s impact, I find myself returning to this prayer, and often.

Its simple message of acceptance, courage and wisdom resonates again.

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.



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