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The Serenity Prayer With A Twist By Ed
Posted by:Lloyd Woodward--Thursday, September 26, 2013

The Serenity Prayer With A Twist
By Ed

As a parent and longtime volunteer at Gateway Rehabilitation Center Greentree in the Family Night Program for families of adolescents having substance abuse problems, I have observed many family members, including myself, who have found Serenity while surviving in the midst of all of the chaos surrounding their loved one’s addiction, and many more who have not. It has often baffled me as to why some can find it, and many, many others just cannot.

While reflecting upon the Serenity Prayer recently, I was struck by one of those thoughts that immediately elicit the mental response, “Surely, someone has thought of this before now!”. But, I have never seen or heard it expressed in just this way, so here it is.

Perhaps the first two lines of the Serenity Prayer became reversed somewhere along the way.

That is to say that possibly…........

“God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change those things I can,
and Wisdom to know the difference.”

should read……….

“God grant me the Courage to change those things I can,
Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
and Wisdom to know the difference.”

Now, why in the world would that kind of a twist in the Serenity Prayer occur to anyone? I think that this is why...

The Serenity Prayer in its original order, as we are used to seeing it, seems to be a bit passive. In other words, we are asking God to grant or give us Serenity, Courage and Wisdom with no particular stated effort on our part.

Well, does the old saying “God helps those that help themselves.” have any validity, or not? I believe that it does, and should be taken into consideration when praying the Serenity Prayer.

As you probably know, Habitat for Humanity facilitates the building of homes for folks who, otherwise, could not afford to acquire a home of their own. However, each recipient of Habitat’s charitable work must, themselves, complete a required number of hours of work on their home in order to receive the benefits provided by Habitat. Plain and simple, if they do not help, then they do not receive. This perpetrates a kind of “sweat equity”, if you will, creating more of a sense of ownership and responsibility.

My experience in working with family members of adolescents with substance abuse problems has been that those who have been pro-active in their approach to the issues involved are the ones who have had the most success in finding the frequently elusive Serenity. Summoning the Courage to change the things that they could has been, for them, a giant step in their search for Serenity. They have chose to act first in making needed changes, and have been rewarded with more Serenity sooner than those who have not.

So, what changes have they made, those who have, indeed, found some of this elusive Serenity? Well, they have changed themselves. They have changed by choosing to react differently to the addictive behaviors of others, more calmly and more reasonably, in a more thoughtful manner. And, they have changed by choosing to eliminate their own enabling behaviors, both active and passive.

Take Courage and change those things that you can, and just feel the Serenity come rolling in. That’s the Wisdom!


Lloyd Woodward said...

Would this be called the Courage prayer rather than the Serenity Prayer?

Going with your idea, Ed, How about this one?

God grant me the Courage to challenge my teenager's decisions in a manner that might possibly make a difference,
The Serenity to accept his decisions that I can not change,
And the wisdom to know that if I go on and on about what bad decisions he has made I will make him even more resentful towards me and still not have done anything to help him make better decisions.

Jenn said...


Thanks for sharing your insight on the Serenity Prayer. It has always been a favorite of mine, but I don't think that I'll ever read it or recite it again without applying your change to it.

It makes more sense to me that courage must come first. The courage to face the problem, to take action, to enlist help as needed, and never give up.



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