In the previous Serenity post, I discussed the courage needed to change the things we can change. Today, I would like to talk about the serenity (or peace) to accept things we cannot change.
This part of the Serenity Prayer is in many ways the most difficult. Accepting something seems passive, like we aren’t doing anything about the circumstances we are facing. And we aren’t. At least not directly. When we accept something outside our control, we are acknowledging there is nothing we can do about the situation. This doesn’t mean we have to like it. We don’t even have to tolerate it, but we do need to accept the situation for what it is.
It is easy to get tripped up on what acceptance is. Acceptance is not saying that everything is ok or can never change. Acceptance is recognizing the situation for what it is and acknowledging the reality of the situation. To use an example: if someone has diabetes and went to the doctor, they need to accept the diagnosis as accurate before they make the changes they need to make. If the don’t accept the diagnosis, they wont do anything different and the diabetes will get worse. If they do accept the diagnosis – that they do indeed have diabetes – then they can take the steps needed to get better.
It is not easy to accept what we cannot control or change, but doing so can bring peace about the situation. This peace comes because when we accept something as real but outside our control, we can rest on knowing he have done absolutely everything in our power to address the situation. Instead of becoming even more concerned, we can trust God for the outcome (more on that later). And so, we both need and will find the peace to accept the things we cannot change.
So far, we discussed accepting what cannot change and changing what we can change. Next week, we will look at the wisdom to know the difference between what we can and cannot change.