The Serenity Prayer: a hard-won battle

When I first walked into the rooms of Al‑Anon, I couldn’t say the Serenity Prayer with any sincerity. I was angry with God and with the alcoholism that had exploded in my life. I wanted to yell, scream, and cry—not peacefully pray.

At meeting openings or closings, when the Serenity Prayer was said, I respectfully lowered my eyes, looked at everyone’s shoes, and stayed silent. I had to break down the prayer and understand its sections before I could sincerely pray with the group.

The opening word, “God,” was a halting point for me. I was so mad at God for letting my life get as low as it got. I was furious with God for not fixing my sister’s or my husband’s alcoholism as I had asked Him to do. I was mad at God for leaving me in the chaos of active alcoholism without any way out.

I kept coming back to meetings and listening to other Al‑Anon members share their experience. Slowly, I realized that I was more scared than angry. I realized that the God of my understanding didn’t leave me, but had led me to Al‑Anon, which is my way out of the chaos of living with active alcoholism. I rebuilt my relationship with God by working through Steps One, Two, and Three with my Sponsor.

I had to work through my top layer of anger and underlying level of fear so that I could say the word “God” peacefully and not through gritted teeth. My heart softened, and I can now sincerely start the prayer with the word “God,” and then humble myself to ask for serenity with the following words, “grant me the serenity.”

The words “to accept the things I cannot change,” remind me that life’s events don’t always revolve around me, my wants, or my desires. Life follows the loving plan of my Higher Power. I don’t know this plan, and I don’t have to understand or like what happens in life. I just have to accept that which I cannot change.

With the words “courage to change the things I can,” I am encouraged to actively live out my life—no matter what happens. I am reminded not to isolate or give up because “this too shall pass.” Any negative or positive won’t last forever, so enjoy the positive and ask for help with the challenges. Life has options!

Finally, the words “and the wisdom to know the difference,” encourage me to grow.

Until I understood the Serenity Prayer, I couldn’t pray it. Once I understood the prayer, praying it led me through my grief of losing my sister to the disease of alcoholism. I cannot rush through the prayer; it’s got a certain cadence to it. It now brings me peace.

By Lisa R., Wisconsin
The Forum, July 2013