Have you ever looked back on a time of great challenge and realized it was really a blessing? What’s that about?
Our human minds are set up to believe that when things are going well we should be happy, and when they are not, we have reason to be upset. Then along comes the spiritual awareness that we have choice, blowing that old thinking right out of the water. Instead it is replaced with a discovery that deep within each of us is a place of calm… a center of inner peace. It is available to us always, and when we tap into it our life heads own a new road – a path of joy and fresh beginnings.
We tend to discover our spiritual nature when life’s challenges hit and we don’t know what to do. There is something enlightening about making mistakes, hitting the proverbial brick wall and running out of answers. It’s often when we grow the most. We have an endless well of loving direction just waiting for our attention. Those challenges may become blessings because finally we allow ourselves to listen.
The Serenity Prayer is a reminder to accept the serenity that dwells within us. Gently whispering our name, our inner wisdom seeks ways to help us notice that we are more than our human reasoning, experiences and emotions. The love that is our true nature sends us messages of hope and possibility in every circumstance. The Serenity Prayer is our cue to pay attention
God… The first word is God – it’s the beginning, the end and everything in between. If you don’t like the word God, toss it out and choose a new one. I call it the Beloved or the God that adores me because that’s the way I know it… powerful yet gentle energy made of unconditional love. Everywhere present, it is the breeze caressing my skin and tousling my hair. It is the chair, couch, pillow or hillside upon which you sit right now, reading these words. the air we breathe is the air of wisdom. I am part of it, and so are you. Because we are each magnificently unique we will all sense it differently, glorying in experiences that are personal to each of us.
What a gift to know that a center of peace and limitless potential exists within us! It is the spot of knowing that has never been hurt, has never felt shame, has never been afraid and always moves us toward our greatest happiness. It is our soul… inner wisdom… intuition… gut instinct. When we don’t know what to do, it’s the part of us that does know. Softly, it opens our eyes to old beliefs or patterns of behavior that have kept us from remembering who we are. When we allow our own inner magnificence to guide us, we open the spiritual door that lets in the first word, God. The road to serenity follows.
Grant me the serenity Serenity is ours by right of birth. We were born from it; it is our true essence and yet sometimes we fail to remember. It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day life, forgetting there’s more to us than the outside face we show the world. Spirituality is great reminder! Spirituality is about belonging, belonging to ourselves and belonging to the whole of everything around us. It’s the experience of owning a life that is real and authentic. Instead of focusing on what is wrong, we center our thoughts on the indwelling of God, our source of serenity. We say the Serenity Prayer to remind us that we can choose where to put our focus. If we want to have inner peace, we practice havint in in every single circumstance of our lives, from cleaning the clutter out of the car to practicing patience while we sit on the runway waiting for take off!
Serenity becomes our reality when we embody the sure knowing that life is on our side, and whatever is in front of us is happening for us instead of happening to us. Every situation becomes an opportunity to be who we want to be. When we stay focused on God, inner peace comes because we fill our minds and hearts with ways to look for the good, even when it’s a stretch. We surround ourselves with people who will give us the chance to practice. The choice is ours to make, we can either be a victim or not. In any given circumstance, ask yourself, “Will I choose to judge the other person wrong, or will I look past the behavior to see their truth? Will I set boundaries with love, remembering that I, too, have made mistakes? Will I chooseto see through eyes of accptance, allowing inner peace to become my focus? Will I remember that we are all God’s cherished ones, including everyone in this situation?” Is creating harmony in your life easy? No, not at first, but it gets easier. Is it worth it? Yes, because whether you believe it or not, you are worth it.
… to accept the things I cannot change … The things we can’t change are everything that doesn’t belong to us, which is a lot! One thing we can count on is that life is full of changes… always. If we are miserable or frightened beyond measure, it will ease. If we are fully happy, that will shift too. It’s our perception of the situation that is creative; our actions come from that. The event itself is rarely as important as who we are in it.
Try as we might, we have probably learned that controlling others doesn’t work very wlll. Most of us have had times when life felt out of control, so we tried to direct and manage those around us in order to make ourselves safe. We have been hurt and often we have hurt others. How many of us have cried out to God to save us, only to think we are not being heard? Then we add God to the list of those who have wronged us. Those were the days when we lived life unconsciously, unaware that we have choice. The catch is, once we know, we can’t un-know the truth of our spiritual nature. Acceptance awakens the owning of our life and the beauty of what is possible.
Seeking the kingdom is not something that happens outside of us; it is a state of consciousness. When God created, it did so with no expectation, instead giving us unconditional freedom. In doing so, God experiences Itself as us through us, no matter what our life looks like. Spirit’s love holds us in the despair of our darkest secrets and in the joy of our greatest triumphs. It will not step in to save us if we’re taking the wrong path! There is nothing we can ever do that will turn God’s love away from us. When we keep our attention on Spirit we begin to embrace ourselves, warts and all. The walls of victimization start to tumble down as we take responsibility for our perspective and subsequent actions, allowing others the dignity of being responsible for theirs. By keeping our focus on the Divine, instead of our problems, everything falls into place in ways we could never have dreamt of! Such is the promise of a spiritual life… one that is without limits.
Courage to change the things I can… Opening up to our spiritual nature, we become conscious of the power of our own thinking. If we see the world as a hard place, we get to be right, life is hard. Because thought is creative, if we have chosen to be a person of peace, many situations will pop up in life to give us an opportunity to practice. How will we know if we are peace if we don’t test it out? The Serenenity Prayer offers us the courage to change the things we can, and it’s up to us to take it. Every circumstance is an opportunity to ask, “How can I grow from this situation? What quality of God do I need to be in order to have peace of mind, kindness, compassion, patience? What could the benefits be if I moved through this situation in a new way?” Always, we can start a new day. Having made a mistake we can say, “Ah, I goofed. Do I need to make amends?” If the answer is yes, then do so, and then let it go. Start a new day from that point forward.
We choose all the time! When I first became aware of the tools of Science of Mind, I decided to practice gratitude as I stood in a very long line in the post office. In my mind, I made an alphabetical list of everything I was grateful for, beginning with the letter “A:” apples, juicy and sweet, filling my tummy when the old me would be thinking of cake instead; B: books, a place to escape to when I want to hibernate from the world awhile; C: choice, my powerful new tool that reminds me I don’t have to be a victim; D: dirt, glorious dirt under my fingernails as I plant flowers that will nourish in my care… and so on. Then I had a dilemma! I was only on “W” by the time I neared the front of the line, and how fast can one go through X, Y and Z? I thought I would need to let people go in front of me in order to finish! I almons started laughing as I realized what was happening. In reality, my life was in turmoil at this point, and I rejoiced in this gratitude game, it was a beginning, a starting point, a conscious choice, and it worked!
Since then I’ve practiced consciously choosing. When I have a situation I’m really upset about, I’ve learned to remind myself, “You don’t have to like the situation, but it is imperative that you like yourself in it.” Watching my words and actions, I walk away from it saying, “Good for me! I actually paid attention to my own inner wisdom!” And my life has changed. It requires patience, perseverance and growing self-esteem. If we remember to make conscious decisions six times and forget three times, good! Old habits have been with us a long time, and it takes practice to adopt new ones.
Walking a spiritual path tends to bring up past beliefs and hurtful memories. In fact, they may show up again and again. When they resurface we may cry, “I thought I was getting better! What is this about?” Don’t be dismayed, this is not regression. Those old hurts reappear because we are getting stronger. Each time they show up, it is Spirit’s invitation to look at them from a place that is more centered than the time before. Though we deeply stress the first time we process that painful memory, we find the courage to stay the course. Our inner wisdom gently reminds us that we are like the onion with its multiple layers to be peeled back to find the sweetness inside. Although not easy, it is an honor to look at old wounds with a fresh perspective that is guided by love. Finding the courage to change the things we can, we begin to see the process with gratitude. By the sixth or seventh (or seventeenth!) time that past experience shows up we may say, “Ah, there you are old friend, I know who you are . Thank you for reminding me of who I used to be. I let you go now with love,” and finally it’s done.
… and the wisdom to know the difference. The most important thing we can do to find the wisdom to know the difference is to stay focused on the first word of the Serenity Prayer, which is God. Fostering a personal, intimate relationship with a God of our understanding, one that we have learned to trust, helps us take responsibility for our life. We begin to appreciate our human experience, no matter what it looks like. Letting go of the need to control, we release our grip on people and situations around us, understanding the they have their own walk with Spirit. Embraced by the power of the indwelling God, we begin to see anew. A question may surface, “If God loves me unconditionally, isn’t it time I begin to love myself the same way?” Slowly we learn to accept our own beauty, just as we are. After a while, we look around to find that the universe has reflected our new thinking, filling us with reasons to be grateful. Life is happier and gentler now, and there is so much living to do!
Somewhere along the path of our spiritual awakening, we have surrendered to the wisdom and love that is our true reality. We know we will be guided through our day by a power that knows only good, and we let go of the need to control what comes our way. We wake up in the morning requesting, “Use me today. Whatever shows up I will walk through with grace. I will know the difference between what is mine and what isn’t, and I will act accordingly. Today I choose to look at myself gently, with loving acceptance. I choose to see others the same way. Starting this minute, I will own my life and live it fully.” In the enlightened awareness that allows us to take control of our lives, we can now surrender to a God that adores us. Tasting the sweetness of “the wisdom to know the difference,” we are living the Serenity Prayer.
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