This I believe . . .The Serenity Prayer
This I believe . . . fundamental contentment and happiness is dependent less upon situations and places where I find myself, and less upon the people with whom I encounter, but more upon the daily spiritual connection I make with a God I try so hard to understand.
I begin my day with prayer, something I didn’t used to practice. Sometimes I feel silly praying. I imagine looking at a photograph of myself kneeling beside my bed each morning in prayer. I ask, “What the heck are you doing, Pete?” Sometimes prayer happens when I fall out of bed and onto my knees, and sometimes I pray in the shower with my eyes nearly shut. Most times a song on the car radio or activity in my brain triggers a quick prayer on my way to work, maybe The Serenity Prayer.
When I pray, God Grant Me the Serenity to Accept the Things I Cannot Change, I focus on the challenge of acceptance of all the things throughout my day I have no control over – possibly getting caught in traffic on my way to work, because a semi-truck has jack-knifed, spreading its long body across three lanes of highway. It’s accepting colleagues for who they are: overworked and underpaid. It’s accepting that we all fall short in dealing with students in ways that show compassion. It means accepting I have to watch a student fail out of school to learn a life lesson. All those things I try to give to God as my day unfolds. And as a result, I get to be serene and happy.
When I pray, The Courage to Change the Things I Can, I realize what in my day I can change – if I have courage. I can change my attitude, but sometimes I lack the courage. Yesterday I woke up and said, “it’s gonna be a crappy day!” And until I decided to change my thinking and start the day over, you know what? It was a crappy day! The courage to change the things I can means reflecting on what gives me positive energy, like working with troubled students or seeing the beauty of a class unfold. It also means taking time to realize what gives me bad energy and doing what I can to make those situations more bearable for me and others – like getting bogged down by teachers caught in the problems of our profession, helping ungrateful students, and attending endless administrative meetings.
Finally, And the Patience for the Wisdom to Know the Difference, is verbal awareness that I need God in my life today to slow me down with the gift of patience and wisdom to help me make decisions about what to accept and what I have the power to change. And when I make contact with a loving God each day and have developed that spiritual relationship, I am closer to achieving happiness and serenity. This I believe!
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