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Internalizing Serenity

“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.”

Sexual addiction is a common source of instability in many aspects of our lives, and in all honesty, it’s mostly self-inflicted chaos that we are dealing with. Due to our unhealthy mechanisms of dealing with our emotions, we create these problems that we find ourselves in situations having to perpetuate the cycle of lying, deceit, and immoral sexual activity.

In this article, we’re going to take the Serenity Prayer, move it past the realm of recitation in the beginning of a support meeting, and into internalizing it into our daily lives. We’re going to do this but breaking it down into three separate parts.

“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”

This is where most addicts get stuck. While we are in a spiral out of control, we cannot seem to accept or even discern what we cannot change. It’s when we refuse to accept the reality of what we are facing that we then act out of our emotions irrationally trying to control a situation that is most certainly out of our hands. If we can begin to have the awareness to identify what we can’t control, we can begin to lessen the effects of uncontrollable circumstances on our well being. Here are a few examples of things we cannot control, but are not limited to these things:

  • Our spouses emotions.

  • Our children’s decisions.

  • The perception others have of us.

  • The expectations we have from our employers.

  • Friends backstabbing us.

  • Decisions that are made without our consultation.

This list can be used as a simple tool to help get your mind to start discerning between what isn’t in your control.

“The courage to change the things that I can.”

I believe this is the easiest part of recovery, but it’s made to be more complex because of our justification of our poor behaviors. It’s safe to say that if we made the right decisions in our lives, that we wouldn’t find ourselves in situations having to lie or cover up any of our habits. If we had just faced the addiction head on from the beginning, we could have saved ourselves from having to do the work of restoration and mending relationships that we so badly damaged. All it takes is courage. All it takes seeing past the fear the enemy clouds our judgment with and taking action. When Moses sent men to scout the land of Canaan, the men came back paralyzed by the fear of what they thought would happen, that it stopped them from entering into God’s promised land. We must not use the term “powerless to our addiction” as a crutch to not take appropriate action in situations we clearly have control over. How often do we find ourselves not having the courage because of fear of rejection? Or punishment?

Here is a list of things that we can change, and all we need is the courage to do so:

  • Our lies. We can choose to tell the truth.

  • The way we react to negative or uncomfortable situations.

  • Shutting off the device because we’re so tempted by pornography.

  • The words we choose to say to others, and how we tolerate their behavior.

  • We control our boundaries and how we uphold those boundaries.

  • Asking for help when we find ourselves slip or relapse into inner circle behaviors.

  • Relying on God. Which seems to be easier said than done, but we fully control the amount of dependence we have on Him.

A friend of mine shared these wise words to me, “It’s not about what you did or didn’t do in the past. It’s all about what you’re going to do next.” That should be the framework of how we approach courage to change things that we can.

“The wisdom to know the difference.”

This part of the prayer is my favorite part. It shows our willingness to allow God to hold a mirror to our character and become so self-aware of what we can and cannot control in our lives. It’s submitting to God that we are beings given the freedom to choose what we will do with the life He gave us. We must learn to accept this wisdom by working the steps and digging deep into the layers of who we are to understand ourselves better. The more we become self-aware, the more we can live in a state of serenity where we can accept uncontrollable situations and choose to respond to it in healthy ways that are constructive to those around us, healthy to ourselves, and most importantly honoring to God.

My hope is that we learn to take hold of the power behind the Serenity Prayer in our daily lives. Through the Serenity Prayer, we can live peacefully in the present moment, not anxiously in the future, or regrettably in the past.

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