I hurt for a long time because of childhood sexual abuse. Now I want to provide a safe place for hurting men to connect with other survivors of sexual abuse. Talk to us. You don't have to use your real name to share your experiences or ask questions.

Serenity

(This encore post comes from John Joseph.)

You may be familiar with The Serenity Prayer. It's been used by recovering people for decades as they sought sobriety. Tens of thousands, if not many more, have gained some measure of peace as this prayer helped refocus their thoughts.

Pray it now and then I want to share a few thoughts about it.:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change,the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen. 

First, let’s consider the word acceptance. Almost innocuous at first glance, the word is easily dismissed. It seems somewhat weak, banal, and could be taken as a sour grapes or a who-really-cares kind of attitude in the face of horrible abuse in our past.

True acceptance of what we’ve endured as sexual-abuse survivors requires almost Herculean effort on our part. Acceptance isn’t for the faint of heart. Acceptance means we can look our abuse square in the eyes and really own it for what it was.

To come to terms with the reality that our innocence was stripped from us demands the bulk and brawn of an Olympian. Acceptance isn’t the weak resignation of a victim but the brave choice of an overcomer who decides they will be a victim no more.

The courage to change the things that we can in our present life is as rigorous a demand as accepting the reality of our past. Change is one of the most difficult things we face because change equals letting go of the familiar behavior that bring us comfort.

In my case, that ranges from self-pity to acting out in destructive ways. Change equals pain and no one wants to experience pain. To change destructive patterns means launching out into the untested waters of living in new ways and of letting go of the things we’ve trusted.

The truth is that those “comfortable” attitudes or behaviors haven’t brought us anything but destruction. To keep doing what we’ve done will only bring us the results we already have. When our current behavior brings intolerable results, we're ready to change.

And then there’s wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to use the knowledge we have to achieve the results we desire.

Wisdom is choosing the celery over the cinnamon bun. It’s deciding to take a walk instead of a nap. It’s making an effort to forgive instead of allowing an old wound to fester. Wisdom enables us to heal from the past we’ve accepted and to make the powerful changes that we need in the present.

Serenity is the sweet effect of acceptance, courage, and wisdom.

1 comment:

Roger Mann said...

Those are good words. Many do not realize that there is more to that prayer. The rest of it goes like this:

Living one day at a time,
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that You will make all things right if I surrender to Your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen

The one day at a time quote that is often used also comes as you note from the latter part of that prayer. That is important too.

Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace was a tough one for me to get to. First we are assaulted then we spend the rest of our lives recovering, sometimes from one single incident.

It is not fair but as the prayer points out, we must take the world as it is, not try to force it into what we will accept. And I can do that knowing that all will be made right in time. It may not be the right I would have chosen but it will be in the wisdom of an all wise and just God.

It ends reminding me that there is more to life that what I experience. Death is only the beginning. What I endure here will only seem a moment then. This is not all there is and each choice I make here will have immortal consequences both good and bad.

Thanks for the reminder.