2. “God, GRANT me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change”
This drawing may confuse you at first. It is not lovely like most “inspiring” artwork is. But please bear with me; you may feel as surprised as I was.
I looked up the word “grant” in my 1934 Webster’s Dictionary. The word is so familiar that I almost didn’t bother. However, its 1934 meaning was not what I expected. I think of the word “grant” as meaning the same thing as “to give”. I usually hear it in connection with someone applying for a financial grant and receiving they money they requested. To me, it basically seems like a gift. There are usually strings attached to that type of grant and a certain outcome is often required. But once the grant is—well—granted, the person gets money from the grantor. So until now, “grant” always meant “to give”.
But the definition was this: “Grant v. to agree or assent to”.
“Giving” is not even mentioned. Why would we ask the God of our understanding, to “agree” instead of to “give”? Personally, whenever I recited the Serenity Prayer, I thought I was asking to be GIVEN courage, serenity, and wisdom. My request was the same as saying: “God won’t you please, please, please give me those good qualities?” But with the dictionary open in from of me, that request suddenly made no sense.
Why would I beg for qualities that God never refuses to give me? Did I really believe that God refuses to give humans good qualities? Would God ever reply, “Hmmm, let me think! I’m not sure you deserve good human qualities”?
That struck me as ridiculous. Our Higher Power wants us to have good qualities! Before we ask. While we ask. After we ask!
Remember those financial grants I referred to earlier? They are not awarded as random favors. Not at all! Grants for, say “Female Farmers”, will only be given to female farmers. Every requestor will receive funds as long as the supply lasts. In the everyday world, grant providers can and do run out of funds.
But can the Divine “budget” for good human qualities ever run out? I don’t see how. I cannot imagine any voice in Heaven barking, “We are receiving far too many earthly requests for courage, serenity, and wisdom. Cut off the supply immediately!!!”
Only the voice of inner fear would conceive a selfish God like that. I had to admit that it was my fear—not my Higher Power—which denied me access to courage, serenity, and wisdom. I have come to believe that my Higher Power has already imbued me with those qualities. He doesn’t really “give” them to me today, they became my birthright long ago.
My fear often disguises itself as an unquestionable authority or indisputable assumption. To confront my fear, I began drawing what my fear would have me believe. I envisioned a cruel-looking and intimidating barrier between me and Serenity. The barrier is tall and bristling with spikes, wires, chains, and nails. I could never penetrate it or scale it. If God is cruel, then He would be sneering and taunting: “See how beautiful Serenity looks? Well I’m certainly not going to let YOU have it. I’m going to give it to someone else, not YOU!”
The key to unlocking this “Grant” drawing is sitting out in plain sight. A glance to the right and the left of the barrier shows the fence is very narrow. As long as I remain frozen by my fear, I will face nightmarish blockages which are entirely inside my own mind. If I move away from the spot that fear has lured me into, I realize that God has already granted me everything I need in the Serenity Prayer—long before I ask.
The next time I prayed the Serenity Prayer, I didn’t feel I was pleading for a handout. Rather, I felt I was saying “thank you” for receiving what my Higher Power had already agreed to long ago.
— Amen to that
TRIVIA: If parts of this fence vaguely remind you of a concentration camp fence, that is on purpose. I wanted this fence to look horrible and that’s the most horrible type of fence I know of. Does my desire to show something scary confuse you?
To be honest, this drawing confuses most people and I understand why. It is showing us the world as Fear would have us see it. Fear wants us to view the world this way: “One way or the other, I will always be denied the good life that I yearn for.”
And who can argue with Fear? It is high and wide and deep and terrifying. In a moment of real panic, Fear blocks out everything else and completely fills up our entire view of the world. Like that fence in my drawing, my Fear is scary as hell.
Fortunately fear is not my Higher Power. I don’t have to believe it and trust it and follow it. I can take a step back from it at any time, and ask my real Higher Power to show me what He sees. When I do that, fear shrinks a little at first. Then I notice there is hopeful information that my fear forgot to mention. And fear shrinks a bit more. And soon, I notice I am not surrounded by a fence of fear anymore. In fact, fear usually shows me only a small piece of the whole picture. I can choose to stay “trapped” behind that small fence OR I often can choose to go a different way. Like around it. Away from it. Find another path that is free from fear.
Oh, it looks huge and awful, alright. But the only way that fear can replace my Higher Power is if I let it. I ask God to grant me the courage and serenity not to let that happen today.