Uptight, tense, nervous, fidgety, angry, annoyed, pissed-off...see the difference now? And I'm really not exaggerating...I was really wound up tight and never seemed content. So when people see me today they notice that there is a bit of a difference. Of course I can still worry about things and get uptight but not to the extent that I couldn't function like before.
Now I could say that today I attribute that calmness to some inner-peace/strength I get from my spiritual life and that is totally true. But this change in my attitude and reaction began before I became a Christian...so what gives?
Basically I attribute a lot of it to a simple prayer I started to recite in my mind during times of stress. I also took notice of the suggestions given in that short prayer and tried to practice those things in my life. Honestly, the cumulative affect of doing those things was enough to bring me a bit of respite and yes, peace during the stress and often times chaos of early sobriety.
I am referring to the Serenity Prayer:
The words in this simple prayer, shoot you can call it a meditation if the word GOD makes you uncomfortable like it initially made me uncomfortable. But the affect of simply trying to practice those suggestions really brought a change in perspective to my life and started me down the road to the spiritual life I have today.
It did not miraculously solve all my problems and I didn't feel great all the time because I recited this prayer in my head and out load in the privacy of my car or at home.
I have learned since I got sober that I simply cannot control what other people do. Coming to this realization and accepting that made a big difference in how I approached my life. Of course there are others things in life I can't change: death, taxes, the weather, people in the 12 item express lane at Walmart with way too much stuff in their cart, etc...
In life, I soon discovered there were things I could influence, I could change yet they weren't easy. Like Staying sober One Day At A Time...it took some fortitude, courage to proceed down the road of sobriety. It was an unknown and very scary thing to do...it involved basically changing my whole life and behavior. And naturally there are countless other examples of stuff we can in fact change if we have the courage to do it.
But..often times though, I can't really tell what I can truly change and what I can't. That is where simply praying to know the difference becomes so important. If I go by MY natural instinct and EGO..well heck, I think I can change anything...just give me the time and resources...and often that attitude would lead to a great deal of heartache and frustration.
Honestly and I had a hard time believing this myself until I started to practice it and saw it happen for myself: By simply stopping for a minute while reciting this prayer, I often discovered the wisdom indeed to know what I could and could not change. It saves me a great deal of tme banging my head against the wall, let me assure you.
I know...this all sounds silly, right? What a bunch of Hooey, eh?! I thought so too but I just started quietly doing it...why? Because I was desperate for a change in my life. I HAD to change or I was going to die so I put my pride and ego away and prayed :
God, grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change
The courage to change the
things I can.
And the wisdom
to know the difference.
And oddly, slowly but surely I started feeling some serenity. No not instantly but over time. Instead of reacting in anger..I stopped, recited that prayer in my head (you can do this in any situation, TRUST me I KNOW!) and I found I was more calm, less reactionary and yea that started to creep into the rest of my life.
As I stated in the beginning of this post...it was a start. This was the beginning of learning a new way of living yet this short prayer had and still has a profound affect on me and my daily life.