Sunday, September 29, 2013

Serenity Challenge

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference. 

 
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.
Amen.

--Reinhold Niebuhr

I did not realize there was  more to the "Serenity Prayer" than the first paragraph.  I really like the second part.  Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time...  That is the key to not only surviving, but thriving in a world where very little is under "our" control.  It's true, we must walk by faith, trusting that all things WILL work together for good.  Romans 8:26-39 is the lifeline that gets us through even the most impossible of situations.

 BUT!

 But, just as there are many things that are beyond our control, are of God's Providence and we just can't change them, there are also many other things that we can change.  We need the courage to change the things we can.  God doesn't expect us to drag our little martyred selves through life feeling all pathetic and ill used.  He is not glorified when we stoically "suffer in silence" for something that is utterly unnecessary.  He has called us to life and that more abundantly!  We are called to rejoice evermore!  We are admonished to take care of ourselves, being mindful that we are not our own, but are the temples of God.  

So, what can we change?

To begin with, we CANNOT change others.  Don't even try it.  I tried and it never has turned out well.  It's God's job, not mine.

I can take steps to change myself.  And yes, it takes the Holy Spirit working in my life to bring about change, but that doesn't mean I'm off the hook.  We are reminded to put off the deeds of the flesh, put on the armor of God, stir up the gifts within us and quench not the Spirit.  The are things that I can do to positively change my attitude and atmosphere.  And it's nothing big or earth shattering.  What it comes down to is being aware and thankful of the simple gifts all around us.  Here is how this post came into being:

Last week was really busy.  I am so glad I could go spend time with my grandparents.  It was exactly where I needed to be.  I traveled home Thursday afternoon, arriving around 4:45.  It would have been a good day to call in pizza for dinner.  But, there was raw chicken sitting in a brine in the fridge that HAD to be cooked that night or else it would spoil.  Which means a fried chicken dinner.  Fried chicken and I do not get along...  I don't like eating it, and I loathe cooking it.  Usually, I wind up in tears.  Yes, over chicken.  Even when I'm not pregnant.  Now you know my deep, dark secret.  Fried chicken is my husband's favorite meal.  And you would think, being the lovely, gracious, servant that I am (hyperbole)  that I would be so glad for an opportunity to bless my husband with some Southern Fried love.  After all, when we were courting I was ready to conquer burning deserts, crocodile infested rivers and registry shopping just for him.  Of course I love him enough to fix a piddly dinner without it becoming the Charge of the Light Brigade.

I guess not.

Anyways, this was a circumstance I really couldn't get out of.  Not with a clear conscience at least.  As I drug myself to the kitchen I started talking to myself.  Wait!  Don't call the psychiatric ward on me yet!  That is actually a good thing.  We should talk sense to ourselves more often.  David did. (Psalm 42)  And I started discussing with myself what sort of steps I can take in my every day stressful situations to bring peace and serenity to my heart and, by extension, my home.  I grabbed a pen and notebook and jotted a few things down in between grease splatters.  Just thinking of things that make me happy and are within my reach had it's effect.  My heart rate slowed, I stopped thinking of reasons why frying chicken on a Thursday when I'm so tired is ridiculous.  I no longer wanted to hit Robert.  I even noted with pleasure the golden skin and amazing aroma.  When Robert came through the door the look of surprise and adoration on his face was more than worth it.  Did the threatened tears ever materialize?  I would be lying if I denied it.  I did not escape the night without a meltdown.  It was the clean up that got me.  And guess what?  I was expecting and demanding what I thought I "deserved" from my husband and children.  When I didn't get my way immediately, I threw a fit.  I should have read my notes and taken my own advice.

I know in the grand scheme of things that this was really a minor inconvenience.  Major, life shattering things happen.  We are stuck with poor health or poverty or a really annoying person.  There is no end to the trials and tribulations that we all face.  But, there is always something we can be thankful for.  We can always turn to God, our very present help in trouble.  There are small changes that can make a big difference.

Here's my Serenity Challenge list:

1. Spend 5 minutes alone with God.  "...We were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life: But we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God which raiseth the dead." 2 Corinthians 1:8-9  When you feel like the stuffin' is being squeezed out of you, run to your Father.  Maybe that is the whole point, to get you to realize that you are not sufficient in yourself, your sufficiency is of God. 2 Cor. 3:5

2. Turn on some music

3. Light a candle

4. Eat an apple (it just feels healthy!)

5. Drink tea with honey (again, it's the pampering, I'm taking care of myself feeling.  Dr Pepper and Pringles gives me an I hate myself feeling)

6. Take a short walk around the block or to the end of the sidewalk or whatever. 3 minutes ought to do it.

7. Attack whatever it is I am feeling guilt over neglecting.  It could be a Thank You note, bills, overflowing counter top, sink of dishes.  You know what's bugging you with guilt.  Set your timer and take care of it.

8. Send the kids outside for 15 minutes.  It won't kill them.  Lock the door...

9. Send yourself outside and play with the kids.  It won't kill you either.

10. Give yourself permission to read whatever you like for 10 minutes.

11. Take a hot bath

12. Let the kids play in the tub, just for fun.  No soap necessary

13. Hide the computer in the closet.

14. Practice the piano

15.  Pull weeds

16. Vacuum ( I love seeing the offending crud disappear under my vacuum with a satisfying crunch!)

17. Dust with Orange Glo (just one piece of furniture makes me feel good and the room smells peaceful)

18. Change out of frumpy clothes, fix my hair and makeup, wear tennis shoes.  It's amazing how that can turn around a bad day!

19. Look up the words to the hymn bouncing around in your mind all day.  Sing it.  Out loud!  Print off the words and post in the kitchen to sing while cooking and doing dishes.

20. Redirect your thoughts to what is true and lovely and praiseworthy

21.  Grab an unsuspecting partner and break into a random dance.

Don't try to do all this at once!  Just try a few and see if things don't look a little brighter.'

Here's your challenge: Write down three things of your own that might change the atmosphere for you.  Post it in the comment section if you like (or text me if you have my number, hehehe) Then try doing it!

Happy Sunday, y'all!