Wisdom to Know the Difference

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.James 3:17


The Serenity Prayer is believed to have been written by American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr sometime in the 1930’s. Although at the time it was written, it was not directly related to alcoholics, later it was adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous as the prayer stated at each of their meetings. It would then become a regular prayer at many other recovery meetings, including that of adult children of alcoholics.

I had heard of the prayer long before I realized the message it carried to so many suffering from addiction or the aftereffects of living with addicts. Now the simple prayer has become a staple in my everyday life. It wasn’t until just this year I learned the entire prayer. For years I only heard the first three lines. When something reminds me of my past or a harsh word is spoken to me, I say this prayer to God:

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.

With God’s help, I have learned the wisdom to know the difference between accepting what I cannot change and changing the things I can.

In week one of this series, I spoke about accepting things I cannot change.

  • I must accept I cannot control people
  • I must accept I cannot control situations
  • I must accept I cannot control outcomes

Last week, we looked at having the courage to change I can.

  • I can change my attitude toward people
  • I can change my behavior in a situation
  • I can change my reaction to an outcome

I gained the wisdom to know the difference through repeating the Serenity Prayer to God and through learning about God’s character. Learning of His character comes from reading His Word to us. James 3:17 says it best:

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without hypocrisy.

God created me in His image (Genesis 1:27) and I believe James 3:17 describes the image I am to replicate every day:

  • Pure
  • Peaceable
  • Gentle
  • Reasonable
  • Merciful
  • Unwavering
  • Without hypocrisy

Keeping all of these things in mind when harsh words are spoken to me or someone hurts my feelings, I am able to have the Spirit of God with me to help me accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.

Think About It:

  • What are you seeking wisdom about?
  • How do you see God’s character?
  • How do you see your character?
  • Read Galatians 5:22-23, Hebrews 13:8, Psalm 30:5.

Journal About it:

Write about how the questions and scriptures today resonated with you. As you write, thank Him for His loving character.

Pray About it:

As you think and write, say this prayer with me.

Father 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.
In Jesus’ Precious Name,
Amen

Talk About it:

This is my story, what’s yours? I would love to hear from you! I enjoy connecting and keeping in touch. Do you feel as though you don’t have anyone you can share with confidentially? Your anonymity is protected. Do you feel you are the only one struggling with the aftereffects of growing up with an alcoholic parent? Sweet sister, YOU are not alone! It’s time to break free from the shackles of your controlling habits, trust issues, co-dependency, guilt, self-blame, hurts, regrets, and heartaches!


Kimberly Dewberry struggled for 25 years to cope with the pain, hurt,
guilt, regret, unworthiness and shame brought on by her father's
addictions. As her life devolved into a predictable pattern of poor
choices caused by the dysfunctional thinking of an alcoholic household,
Kimberly’s image of God was skewed by an inner turmoil only he could
heal. Because of the loving grace of Jesus Christ, she has broken free
from the shackles of rebellion and anger, and made it her life’s
mission to share her journey through courageous prose. Her heart’s
desire is to help other adult children of alcoholics identify and
overcome unhealthy cycles of destructive living that the specter of
alcoholism leaves behind. Visit her web site: http://www.kimberlydewberry.com

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