I have this quotablecard of the serenity prayer hanging in my kitchen where I can see it every day because I need this advice every day.
I have a bit of trouble accepting things I cannot change. Okay, more than a bit! Let’s say I have an immense amount of trouble with that!
I want the people I love to be happy, and I hate knowing I often can’t do anything about that. Somehow it always comes as news to me that I can’t protect my kids from the struggles of life, that I can’t expunge the suffering of my friends and family. Well, maybe it’s not news to me. I mean, I know it in my head. But each time my loved ones are sad, hurt, scared, I want all over again to believe that I can take that away, that I can do something (anything!) to make it all better.
The past several months have been filled with crap and chaos. People I love have been suffering. I won’t go into detail, because those aren’t my stories to tell. Yet watching dear ones struggle with significant life challenges makes me sad and scared and angry, right along with them.
I was on the beach last weekend with one of my suffering people, crying together about how hard it is to let go of control—to really, truly, deeply accept that there are essential things about which we can do nothing. How scary that is, how much better it would be if that was not true, how much that generally sucks!
This struggle shows up in both of my novels, possibly because it is one of my primary struggles and definitely because it is a common human experience. We all want to believe we have control over our own lives, that we have agency and power. And we do, to a certain extent. Yet, shit happens. Pain and disappointment and heartbreak happen no matter what we do, and then we have to keep on going.
Which rounds back to the serenity prayer. Shit happens that we can’t control. Then we search for what we can do, and we do it. It takes courage and serenity and wisdom… and people we love who support us. That last part isn’t in the serenity prayer, but I believe in it just as much (and almost always write about it). We can’t do it alone. I’m glad I can be there for the people I love, the people who will be there for me next time I need them, the people who have helped me learn to live with wisdom and courage and (occassionally) serenity.