Serenity and Forgiveness
Some of the readers of this column are currently reading our Living Compass Lent booklet, "Practicing Forgiveness with All Your Heart, Soul, Strength, and Mind," as well as participating in our Facebook discussion group based on the booklet. This week we all have been reflecting on and discussing practicing forgiveness within our families. Many people have commented about how challenging it can be to practice forgiveness and to seek reconciliation with people, sometimes even in their own families, who seem to have no remorse or even no idea of how hurtful their behavior has been.
The Serenity Prayer has come up often in our discussion because it serves as the perfect reminder for us to both have the courage to seek forgiveness and reconciliation when possible, and to also accept that sometimes this will not be possible-at least for the time being. In case you are not familiar with the opening lines of the Serenity Prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr, they are:
"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."
I recently became aware of a modern day adaptation of this famous prayer, written by a Jesuit priest and popular author by the name of James Martin (he currently has close to 600,000 followers on Facebook). I'll close this week's column by sharing it with you in hopes that it may serve as a reminder for us to stay humble as we seek to practice forgiveness and work towards reconciliation within our families, and our other close relationships.
"God, grant me the serenity
to accept the people I cannot change,
which is pretty much everyone,
since I'm clearly not you, God.
At least not the last time I checked.
And while you're at it, God,
please give me the courage
to change what I need to change about myself,
which is frankly a lot, since, once again,
I'm not you, which means I'm not perfect.
It's better for me to focus on changing myself
than to worry about changing other people,
who, as you'll no doubt remember me saying,
I can't change anyway.
Finally, give me the wisdom to just shut up
whenever I think that I'm clearly smarter
than everyone else in the room,
that no one knows what they're talking about except me,
or that I alone have all the answers.
grant me the wisdom
to remember that I'm
(James Martin, S.J.)
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