God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.
With the U.S. 2012 election over, Americans can finally begin to look ahead. Admittedly, I was hoping for a different outcome, as evidenced by a rare and raging case of heartburn that erupted around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday night. My perspective is quite different from that of Barack Obama’s and, late Tuesday, I allowed myself some time to wallow in a rather deep pool of anxiety and self-pity.
Then, miraculously, the wisdom that allegedly comes with age began to emerge. I doused my heartburn with a tall glass of milk and started thinking about moving forward. Nearly half of all Americans experienced a disappointment yesterday. Donald Trump even took to the Twitter-sphere to rant about the perils of a nation divided. While I don’t share his flair for dramatics, I see his point. If we can’t all play nice in the sandbox or, worse, if our mutual animosity leads us toward some civil cold war, well, it would be difficult to see hope on the horizon.
That said, it’s almost effortless to swell with self-righteous indignation, jab an angry finger across the aisle and proclaim, “I tried – they wouldn’t budge! I voted! Don’t blame me when democracy unravels!” It’s the easy way to satisfy ourselves (inasmuch as it’s possible) when our worlds have been shaken. It gives us a sense of control.
As I began to play the blame game in my living room Tuesday night, I remembered the Serenity Prayer. I realized that, while it’s a great prayer, unless it’s practically applied, it’s useless. 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 also remembered my parents’ timeless counsel (see, Mom and Dad? I really was listening!) In personal times of uncertainty, from playground turmoil to rather terrifying medical tests, my father has always advised me “not to worry until there’s something to worry about.” My mother, who for years was (like me) more prone to worrying, now believes there’s no point in fearing the unknown. Indeed, she’s seen enough of life to know that unfounded worry is not only pointless, it’s harmful – both physically and emotionally. I believe her.
The election is over. Neither I, nor the entire breadth of the GOP can do a thing to change the outcome. Now is the time to ascertain what I can control. My attitude. My patriotism. My belief that this great country has rules in place for a reason. My knowledge and acceptance that not everyone will always agree with the way things pan out, which is one of the great freedoms of this nation.
No amount of worry or complaint on my part will affect change. Being angry and blaming the amorphous “them” for their failure to fix the things I think are broken gets me exactly nowhere. Unless I have the time and energy to invest in a political career – let alone lead some sort of revolution – my control is limited to my vote, my letters to various government officials, and the way I live my life.
Without the guiding principles of the Serenity Prayer, I could easily get lost in a sea of discontent. Instead, I can find a way to continue to support my homeland. Because I still love Her.