“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.”
Change: it’s been said change is the only constant in life. Why do we alcoholics fight it so much? Sure, we would like to change other people, our environment, or whatever is annoying us at the moment. But when a change is “inflicted” upon us, with no solicitation on our part, we seem to assume the worst and immediately expect its catastrophic impact on our life.
The priest at my church has been preaching a series about change, as he is about to embark on a new adventure at another parish. He founded our church, one of the fastest-growing parishes in the country, 12 years ago, and many of us have known him longer than that. Like so many others I am deeply saddened to see him go, and can’t imagine anyone preaching like he does on Sunday mornings. Yet, as I was reminded by him on Sunday, isn’t God’s plan always better than my own plan? And doesn’t God’s plan always happen, regardless of what I think about it?
Take, for example, my sobriety. When I was defeated by alcohol and completely hopeless, I had to change my actions. I had to go to a 12-step meeting. I had to open up and share how I was feeling. I had to ask for help. Eventually, I had to start working the steps. All of these changes were extremely difficult and sometimes painful, and I thought my “life” was over at the ripe old age of 22. Yet the resulting freedom and new life that I’ve been given are beyond comparison to my old life of active alcoholism.
Then I look at the changes that have come about in my sobriety: meeting my husband at a meeting, having children, giving up my career, getting transferred to another state (and back), changing sponsors, sponsees coming and going, having money, not having money; many of these changes were not conscious choices that I made, but rather seem to have been God’s will. What I’ve learned over and over and over is that I don’t always know what’s best for me, what will make me happy, joyous, and free. But God does, and if I am consistently seeking His will, I believe I can have those things.
There is a Chinese proverb that I love:
A farmer and his son had a beloved stallion who helped the family earn a living. One day, the horse ran away and their neighbors exclaimed, “Your horse ran away, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few days later, the horse returned home, leading a few wild mares back to the farm as well. The neighbors shouted out, “Your horse has returned, and brought several horses home with him. What great luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
Later that week, the farmer’s son was trying to break one of the mares and she threw him to the ground, breaking his leg. The villagers cried, “Your son broke his leg, what terrible luck!” The farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
A few weeks later, soldiers from the national army marched through town, recruiting all the able-bodied boys for the army. They did not take the farmer’s son, still recovering from his injury. Friends shouted, “Your boy is spared, what tremendous luck!” To which the farmer replied, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
The proverb reminds me that I am not in a position to judge a situation, that only God can. The future is as clear to God as the past is to me. What I can control is my attitude toward change. I can catch myself when I’m in “stinking thinking” and remember all the amazing things that have come to me when I put my life in God’s hands. I can actively seek His will and do the next right thing. And when I’m convinced that the sky is falling I can remember, “Maybe so, maybe not. We’ll see.”
Debbie L. - Plano, TX