In the past, when I became fearful, I would begin to spin a mental tape of every worst case scenario and fret over the fact that I could not control the crisis that was currently playing out in my life. These hours of worry produced nothing more than fatigue and frustration. “What ifs” and “Should haves” will not help to get me through the day. I must keep my focus firmly planted in the present and use the time that I have been given to accomplish real work and not waste my time fearing what “may” happen. I have no control over outcomes. The only control I have is over my own thoughts and actions. – “Dear God, help me to let go of worry and fear. Help me to believe that everything is as it should be and everything will be revealed in time.”
I had grown up with prayer.
When I was a small child, I would often pray when I was frightened or worried about a particular outcome.
As a young adult… it was usually a plea for help when I knew that I had taken things “too far with my parents.”
And… when I was married, I often prayed for God to give me a happy marriage, a happy husband but…
It wasn’t until I began to pray the Serenity Prayer… that I really truly began to pray.
The Serenity prayer reminded me that I have to accept life on life’s terms.
It reminded me that I cannot control every outcome and that I cannot control what the world will bring to me or for that matter… take away from me.
Today, I hold the words of the Serenity Prayer to my heart, as I move forward in my spiritual footwork, learning that I cannot control another human being through my words, my actions, or even my prayer: their path is their path and my path is mine.
All I can do is pray for my Higher Power’s will as I work to accept what is… and use my wisdom to change what I can… myself.
“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.”
In the past, I saw detachment as a form of isolation: a way to create my own island.
I believed if I separated myself from a bad situation, if I stonewalled, if I found a way to keep distance, that I was detaching and becoming spiritually stronger by doing so but…
What I found was that I couldn’t let go, put my personal feelings, my opinions, aside and truly detach.
I was constantly driven to react by every unkind word or action and what I found was no matter how much I “detached” I was still losing my peace of mind… my balance.
Because it wasn’t detachment… I was acting as a martyr… removing myself physically from the situation but mentally choosing to suffer again-and-again and punish others for what I considered their “poor behavior.”
Today, I must let go of my resentments, my regrets, and practice detaching with love.
It isn’t easy.
But I have to learn that another’s words and actions say more about what they are going through than it does about their relationship with me. I must learn to not take everything personally and work on my own well-being while allowing another to work through the issues and struggles on their own spiritual path.
“Dear God, help me to detach with love. Help me to let go of my anger, resentment and pain, and focus on my own spiritual journey.”
During my divorce, I found that I had to check my motives constantly.
Sometimes my words or actions were used to manipulate or control my husband, or the situation, in hopes that I would either be able to wound him, the way I felt I had been wounded, or to fight for the outcome that I so longed for: a reconciliation.
Either way, this type of behavior, this type of motivation did not serve me well.
It kept me firmly attached to my “shadow self” reacting out of fear and despair, anger and frustration.
Today, when I choose to speak up or take action, I must first make sure that I am doing so because it is the right action for me… that my motives are clean.
If I am trying to change someone or get what I want… then maybe I should wait before I take action.
“Dear God, help me to be honest in my motives. Help me to speak and act only when I truly feel it is in my best interest to do so.”
Going through my divorce was one of the most painful experiences I have ever suffered.
I was so sure, caught up in the despair of the moment, that it was the biggest disaster of my life and that I would never truly recover.
But that was my fear talking.
My fear of the future… of losing my marriage, my life as I knew it… my “place” in a relationship.
I was so limited by my thinking.
I couldn’t see past the crisis to what might be there for me on the other side: a life full of joy and happiness that fit me much better than the one I currently was clinging to.
All I could focus on was my fear of more “unforeseen doom” every “worse case scenario” connected to the loss of my marriage.
But today, I live a life that my limited thinking could have never imagined.
It is a life full of love and passion.
It is a life full of trust and compassion.
It is a life where the people I now spend time with accept me for who I am and support me in all of my endeavors.
Fear and limited thinking is a way to keep me chained to a past that no longer works for me.
I must have faith that my Higher Power can see what I cannot… the unlimited possibilities of my life… and that he will lead me to a better future when I am ready to follow.
“Dear God, help me to let go of fear and walk bravely into my future. Help me to see that with your guidance my life can be more than I ever imagined it could be.”
When I was going through my divorce, I was struggling constantly with my pain and my despair.
The people I loved would listen to me as I worked my way through my feelings but often times, found it hard to do so, because they wanted me to be over my marriage… out of the pain… moving on and away from a relationship they felt was not worth my time or attention.
I understood that they did not like seeing me suffer and I understood that it was difficult for the people I loved to listen knowing that they were unable to fix it for me but still… I needed them to listen.
Today, I remember how kind my friends and family were to me during such a trying time in my life.
They showed me tolerance when emotions made it difficult to do so.
It is important for me to remember this when I am the sounding board for a friend or loved one that is struggling with a difficult issue.
Though I may want to move them through the problem quickly, because I feel that I cannot bear to watch them suffer anymore, it is not my place to do so.
I must have tolerance and accept that:
They may need more time to work through their problem…
They may need to repeat their story to me numerous times to find clarity or acceptance of the reality of their present circumstance…
They may need to know that no matter how broken or flawed they feel in that very moment… that they will not lose me… as they have lost someone else dear to them.
I must be mindful and tolerant of their needs and thankful that I am there to offer solace.
“Dear God, help me to be tolerant when being present for those I love. Help me to remember to have patience and compassion.”
When I think back to my marriage, and ultimately… my divorce… I am always so hard on myself in regards to the mistakes I made in the relationship.
I can be so cruel to myself… so hard on my own heart… instead of accepting that I did the best that I could at that time… I gave my all… and even though it may have been flawed… I made my decisions out of love and not out of malice.
It amazes me how I am so kind to the people I care about, so forgiving… when they falter on their path… when they have made an error in judgement but still… so demanding in regards to my own limitations.
Today, though I am quick to apologize for my mistakes, I must go one step further and learn to let go of self-shame… of the guilt of a poor decision… and embrace that I am human and therefore as fallible as anyone when it comes to navigating difficult emotions and situations.
“Dear God, help me to accept where I am at today. Help me to love myself as I work to be a more spiritually sound person.”
photo courtesy of: Kevin Whitaker