A Freedom TalePosted: August 15, 2013
I was seeking freedom when I got sober and I was seeking even more freedom when I returned to attending Religious Science church. At first, I was discouraged, but I held onto the belief that prayer and spiritual principles might set me free. I was right.
Theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr is credited with the well-known prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I got sober sitting in Mexican living rooms with dirt floors, drinking coffee and saying that prayer at every meeting.
The Serenity Prayer was what I had to hang onto at first and I hung on tight. It wasn’t a bad beginning. I had to look for support somewhere and I desperately needed more courage, wisdom, and serenity. In the beginning, saying the Serenity Prayer, making gratitude lists, and living one day at a time kept me sober.
A couple of years after l was back in the United States, I started attending Religious Science Centers in Albany and New York City. I put the Serenity Prayer to the side a bit because I was learning about affirmations and new prayer treatments that seemed to promise more.
I was attracted to the teaching of Dr. Ernest Holmes because I had several unresolved situations in my life. When I began to study Science of Mind, I had money problems, was withdrawn and shy, and felt like a failure. I’d been in a close but difficult relationship for several years.
The relationship seemed to me to be my greatest problem. I had always wanted to get married and live happily-ever-after just like the story books promised . My two marriages weren’t completely happy and they ended with the deaths of my husbands. That was part of my drinking story. I’d latched onto a third prospect who seemed like he would be a fine husband if only…
I was miserable about the direction this love affair was going. I believed that I was trapped by my past decisions. I was getting older and I believed my options were closing down. I had sad stories to tell to anyone who would listen.
Truth is, I’d quickly created a good life for myself in many other ways. Once I was sober, my writing career soared and I was doing very, very well. My health was good and I had a bit of money in the bank. Things were really looking up except I was still obsessing over this long-term relationship that wasn’t going anywhere and that I couldn’t imagine leaving.
We were bound to each other emotionally but there was too much pain so I told us both I was taking a temporary place in New York City to help my writing career. For the next year, I “visited” him on the weekends.
I revisited the Serenity Prayer as I learned all about prayer based on New Thought principles. I learned that each of us is an individualized expression of God. No one can live another person’s life for him, no matter how much we may wish to. We all have freedom of choice.
I learned I couldn’t pray to make my lover change or do what I wanted. Up until then, I’d dreamed of writing the script and forcing him to speak his lines. Even though it clearly wasn’t working, I was disappointed when I learned I could only control myself.
I found Dr. Raymond Charles Barker’s book, the Power of Decision early in my studies. My favorite paragraph starts out, “You cannot cheer up chronically unhappy people…”
I felt as if Dr. Barker had written it personally for me. My lover was chronically depressed and we’d fallen into a pattern of me trying so very, very hard to cheer him up. This was before I knew the word, enabling, but that’s what I was doing.
Up until then, I wanted to use Science of Mind prayer and principles so he would change. Gently, my teacher introduced the idea that I was the only one I could change.
As she shared he wisdom, she promised me a new world if I used these spiritual principles correctly. I would become a person who created her life rather than a person that life happened to. I couldn’t quite believe that, but I was willing to try because I could see many things were better in my life.
It was very difficult for me to give up the idea of changing him. I couldn’t quite believe I couldn’t convince him to live happily ever after. He wouldn’t even talk about positive living. I kept hanging onto the idea that if I tried harder I could convince him to agree to my way. It didn’t work.
Eventually, I understood my lover didn’t want to mold himself to my specifications. He had never promised me that. I had never promised to be what he wanted either. So we parted.
In retrospect, I see I was trapped in a fantasy of my own making. I wanted that happy ending and I wanted it to be my way. I also see my story did have a happy ending that depended on all three aspects of the Serenity Prayer – courage, serenity & wisdom.
I’d had the courage to change many things about myself. I stopped drinking and I built a successful life. I lacked serenity for a long time because I wanted what I wanted when I wanted it. I needed to gain wisdom to let go of an unrealistic dream. I needed to accept the truth that set me free.
That was all a long time ago. I’ve lived happily ever after. Last time I heard, he had a new lady and they were dancing to his old tune. I laughed when I heard that.
My only question might be what took me so long. I think the answer was right there in the Serenity Prayer all along.
I had the courage to change but I couldn’t change another person, I gained the serenity to let go eventually and that helped but I wanted more than to endure in an unsatisfactory love affair. If I could rewrite this tale, I’d gain the wisdom I needed sooner.
Ah well, it took what it took. Change comes a little bit at a time for most of us. Every prayer works because it brings us closer to realization but most of us have to chip away at resistance when we tackle old, treasured ideas.
I tell this story to illustrate that prayer and spiritual principles bring freedom. I’m now living an entirely new story. How about you? What story are you living? Is it a happy one? Do you want to make some changes?
Have you ever used the Serenity Prayer?
Have you ever held on to a condition too long?
What do you want to pray for now?
What do you want to let go of now?