We’ve all seen it so many times that it seems trite, a cliché. It is a mantra in recovery groups.

But it is bigger than that. Stop, look, listen:

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.

This one little prayer fully answers the question “How do I get through this crazy life?”

I mean, what percentage of my life is spent resenting what is?

“Why are people so mean?”

“Why did my neighbor paint their house such an ugly color?”

“Why does Microsoft Word suck so badly?”

The prayer offers me two choices – accept it or do something about it.

And accept that I can’t always do something about it.

When my sister was dying, I was driving home from the hospital and saw a billboard for the state lottery. “Jackpot: $68 million!” it said in rainbow colors.

“Huh,” I thought. “Even if I won all that money, I still couldn’t help my sister. There’s nothing I could do.”

It was a shock to my system. There was NOTHING I could do.

Then there are those other times when I have known what needs to be done – I could feel it with every nerve, it kept me up at night – but lacked the courage to do it. So I used “coping skills” –  got depressed, blamed others, fed my addictions to try and keep the pain of failure away.

I know it is easy to spend years dangling between the two poles of resentment and fear.

Eventually, though, if one wants to grow, one has to step out and sort out what can be changed and what can’t.

The Serenity Prayer. 27 words little words that offer a path to sanity and peace. It’s not just for recovery groups anymore.