An excerpt from the workbook by Peter Martin. From the Chapter on Anxiety!
This is why I love the Serenity Prayer so much:
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.
It is so awesome to me how this prayer focuses on the truth that there are some things that are within my control, and some things that aren’t. How much of our time do we spend worrying about things that we can’t change while we ignore the things that we can? Or, how much of our time do we spend paralyzed by fear as we convince ourselves that we can’t change things, that we actually can? This is most obvious to me when I stress out about the past or the future. Again, it’s not that it is wrong to think about the past, if we don’t think about our past ever we won’t be able to learn from it. And it isn’t wrong to think about the future, God wants us to be good stewards of our lives and that requires planning and discernment. But when we obsessively ruminate over the past and allow guilt and regret to consume us, we aren’t learning from our past, we are being controlled by something that we can’t change. Likewise, if our thoughts are consumed with “what if” questions about the future, which is by nature uncertain and outside of our control, we aren’t going to be able to effectively plan for the future. Instead, our minds will come apart with fear and instead of planning and making rational decisions, we will stress-out and dwell in paralyzing fear and indecision.
This will also steal all potential joy in your present circumstances because you will be so worried about what was, and what could be, you can’t simply enjoy what is. This is what Jesus is warning us about when He says: “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
Each day has enough trouble of its own. It is only as God gives us the power to accept the things that are out of our control, and helps us see that the only thing that ultimately matters about your future, whether or not you will spend eternity with Him, has already been accomplished by Him; that we can gain the peace to enjoy and function in the present, the courage to learn from the past and change, and the confidence to plan for the future and make decisions, knowing that the future isn’t in your hands, but in the hands of God.