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.
Everyone has heard this version of the serenity prayer, but far fewer people have heard the entire prayer. Although versions of it had been circulated in oral form for years, it’s first written version is attributed to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in a 1944 book for army chaplains and servicemen:
God, give us grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish
the one from the other.
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.
Take some time to read the full prayer and think about what the words mean for you today in your life and your marriage. Is there a source of contention between you and your spouse that you cannot change, and need to do a better job accepting? What can you change that you haven’t been courageous enough to begin taking small steps toward? Think of one thing that you need to accept and one thing that you need to change, and do at least one thing, big or small, to start getting closer to acceptance and change in those areas.
Had you heard the full serenity prayer before? Has reading the full prayer added to its meaning?