Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Serenity Prayer

I think I've mentioned before that I have generalized anxiety disorder. It is a "disorder characterized by long-lasting anxiety that is not focused on any one object or situation...the cause is either not readily identified or perceived to be uncontrollable or unavoidable..." (from Wiki)

Mine began suddenly in 2003 after a triggering event (which maybe I'll tell you more about some day). I didn't realize what it was until 2004, when I finally went to see a doctor about it.

It is not, as you can imagine, a pleasant thing. But over the past few years, I've learned how to deal with it more effectively. And I've found that during its peaks, it helps to recite a mantra.

So when I was in college, living at 919 Nutwood, I wrote out my mantra on a piece of clover green marbleized paper, trimmed it with shimmering clover ribbon, and attached it to the wall over my bedroom door. Whenever my anxiety started to get the best of me, I looked up on my wall and recited my mantra. It didn't take me long to memorize it, but I kept it up on the wall anyway.

Two years later, I moved into 1402 Nutwood with my brother, and took the green paper with me. Even though it had started to fade, I couldn't bring myself to throw it in the trash. I affixed it over my new bedroom door, and it continued to bring me comfort over the next 2 years.

Last year when I came to Honduras, I left a lot of my things behind in my room at 1402 Nutwood. My brother was going to continue living there with his new wife, and so I decided to let them keep what they wanted and trash or sell the rest. They lived there up until my parents left for Costa Rica, they moved into my parents vacant house, and put 1402 Nutwood up for rent. They found renters shortly thereafter: the daughter of my brother's highschool youth minister and her friends.

While I was in the US the past few weeks, I decided to go by the house before the new renters moved in. I went into my old bedroom, still the overwhelmingly bright teal color. And still hanging over the door was my clover green paper, faded even more. I shut my eyes and read the words out loud. I felt the familiar peace and serenity wash over me.

I wanted to yank it down and bring it back to Honduras with me. But I decided to leave it there. A gift for the new eager college student that will be occupying my old space.

So why the monologue about a stupid green piece of paper? :)

I'm writing this so she knows the story behind the paper. And the story behind the words. And so hopefully, it will bring her as much peace and serenity that it brought to me over the past 5 years of my life.

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the strength to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."

1 comment:

Hannah said...

FYI, the actual Serenity Prayer in its entirety, written by Reinhold Niebuhr:

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;
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life
And supremely happy with Him
Forever and ever in the next.