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.
I stared at this prayer each day before I tucked into bed, pondering its deep meaning. For my 13th birthday my mom cross-stitched the prayer and hung it beautifully there for me to look at and contemplate. But what did it really mean?
For years it was always the third part of the prayer which captured my attention the most. Wisdom to know the difference. The words reverberated through my mind during my moments of failure, both small and large. A scoreless basketball game. Being rejected for a job. Financial stress. Being told by my university that they wouldn’t support me moving overseas. Wisdom to know that these are things which I must accept and which I cannot change.
A few weeks ago I found myself in the back of a pickup truck barreling through dirt roads on the island of Flores. We were on our way to visit a school, but as we got further and further from civilization I found myself struggling to accept the fact that small children would walk such distances in the rain and mud just to receive an education. As our truck tumbled up to the school, children poured out of the classrooms. Their smiling faces and joy-filled eyes distracted from the dirt caked between their toes and their mud-stained clothes. Good morning Mister! Good morning Mister! Gleeful laughter erupted from their little cliques. As I peered into their faces I allowed myself to take a moment and dream about their futures. These kids had already sacrificed so much just to get an elementary school education. Would they survive through middle school and high school? Become leaders? Become doctors, engineers, businessmen, on teachers? My heart broke as I realized the reality that for many of these kids dreams for the futures couldn’t happen because the education they needed just didn’t exist.
Wisdom to know the difference. The words rang in my head again. But this time I saw these words in a different light. Wisdom to know that I CAN DO SOMETHING. The serenity prayer immediately took on a whole new meaning to me. Instead of focusing on all of the ways I was powerless, on all of the things I needed to let go of, my eyes were suddenly opened to all the responsibility I have as a child of God. The courage to change the things I can. Bringing education for the poor. Loving the unloved. Feeding the hungry. There is just so much we can do to serve God’s children. But do we have the courage?
With this renewed ambition and excitement we have been growing out teacher training program over the last few months with the goal of getting more Christian teachers into more schools in more villages in order to influence and share the Good News with more kids.
One thought on “Wisdom to Know the Difference”
This is so true and it stirred my heart! People commonly call it “The Serenity Prayer” but why isn’t it called “The Courage Prayer”?