“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change….”
Lately it has occurred to me that being peaceful can seem like a negative thing. But it really isn’t. If each of us were peaceful within, there would be peace on earth!
As a person who has a tendency to be anxious and worried much of the time, I long for peace. Relaxation practices like deep breathing and stretching help in the moment, but over the long term, I often let go of my serenity. Why is this, and what can be done about it? I think the answer can be found in examining what serenity is….and what it isn’t.
Serenity is NOT complacency.
It occurred to me the other day that being relaxed and at peace can feel like I don’t care. To my twisted way of thinking, I am proving I care about people by the amount of worrying I do about them. When you put it like that, it sounds kind of stupid, doesn’t it?
No, instead, serenity is simply trusting that all will be well.
Serenity is NOT irresponsibility.
It is taking responsibility for our own self-care by maintaining a balance between work and play.
Serenity is NOT grim resignation.
It is a calm acceptance of tasks and circumstances that we don’t particularly like. We have the peacefulness to decide if we want to do the task now or later. We don’t have to condemn ourselves for the choice either way.
Serenity is NOT idleness.
Sometimes it rolls up its sleeves and gets dirty in the service of others. Sometimes it gets all sweaty during a vigorous exercise session. While seasons of stillness can contribute to inner tranquility, being peaceful does not require constant stillness of body.
Serenity is NOT blind ignorance of the suffering all around us.
It is faith that the reprehensible things that happen in the world will end, and there will be redemption. It is the hope that maybe one’s small contribution of money or prayers can make a difference for someone in trouble.
Serenity is NOT passivity.
Serenity is not necessarily silent. Silence can be a characteristic of peace within, but a serene person may also speak out in the presence of injustice without concern about what others will think.
But most importantly, serenity is NOT impossible!
It is the birthright of every child of God who desires peace and is willing to pursue it.
“Those who desire life
and desire to see good days,
let them keep their tongues from evil
and their lips from speaking deceit;
let them turn away from evil and do good;
let them seek peace and pursue it.”
(1 Peter 3:10-11 NRSV)