Saturday, August 6, 2016

The Serenity Prayer, My Ego, and Me

I simply didn’t know the difference between the things I could and couldn’t change and I was too embarrassed to ask and reveal my ignorance. I finally did ask, however. And am I glad I did.
I was told that I couldn’t change other people, places, or things. “What, then, does that leave you to focus on, Donnie?” I smiled and didn’t say anything, but I had nodded – in that knowing kind of way you nod, even though you still aren’t sure of the answer. My friend saw through that and continued to ask me, “I’m serious Don.  If you can’t change people, places or things, what does that leave you to focus on?”
“Myself.” I answered.
“Correct. Just remember: ‘If you’re not the problem, then there is no answer.’”
For those of you unfamiliar, I would like to continue with Niebuhr’s complete, but simple, prayer:
“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. 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
I am always my problem. It’s not that I believe I am that important. It’s just that dealing with myself is all I can handle. That is summed up in another of AA’s great little sayings: “Keep the focus on yourself – just for today. The rest of your life is none of your business.”
This is very, very similar to what I learn in A Course in Miracles (ACIM). Why then, oh why, do I find it so easy to understand what it is that you need to do to fix yourself? What you should correct about yourself? How you could improve, if only you would ….??
I think Tommy was absolutely correct when he was still alive. He died after about a year of sobriety. He died of cancer. He died sober. He would always introduce himself in meetings by saying: “Hi everyone. My name is Tommy. I’m addicted to alcohol and to anything and anyone that will enable me to keep my focus off of me.” Invariably, no matter how often we had heard him, we would all laugh. It was so funny, but it was also so true of all of us. And we knew it. But whenever it was said out loud in that straightforward kind of way, it sounded so ridiculous and so it was just plain funny.
Among other things, thinking about and composing these messages is one of the ways I keep my focus on me.

#1 Aug 2016

Copyright 2016

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