God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Isn’t it funny how we think we can control life’s circumstances? Yet, the Serenity Prayer’s wise words make it abundantly clear we cannot.
As I’m writing the first draft of today’s blog, instead of returning to Oregon, I’m unexpectedly still in beautiful Florida. The reason for this extended stay is because my flight to Denver is delayed, preventing me from making my connection to Bend.
Now, I’m not complaining about some extra sunshine and an additional evening with my mom. But this is impacting some special plans … this weekend, my husband is taking me to the Oregon coast for my birthday. As I write this blog, butterflies swirl in my stomach. I’m worried whether the rescheduled flights will land on time to drive to the coast. However, I have no control over whether I’ll get to Bend by tomorrow afternoon … and acknowledging this uncertainty can be quite unsettling.
For years, I thought that meticulous organization, extra provisions, and a solid Plan B would keep my world on track, proceeding as I’d hoped. But life’s clearly shown me that despite the best intentions, all we can do is show up and do our part … then go with the flow (something that is not in my DNA). But releasing control is hard. Yet what is the alternative? After all, the only thing we can control is our reaction to what is.
Today’s travel delay once again reminds me of this fact. And now, as I have unanticipated hours to begin my next blog, it only feels right to explore this topic.
Why do we think we possess the ability to determine life’s outcomes?
Despite working our hardest with the purest of intentions, the end result is rarely up to us. We have the option to become stubborn, determined to battle this lack of control. But that usually gets us nowhere. It’s only when we accept our limitations and have faith that whatever comes our way is meant for us that we find serenity.
Of course, it’s easier to write this sentence than it is to heed its advice. And while I intellectually believe these words to be true, I too often resist going with life’s flow. Instead, my default is to try to make things work, fix whatever I perceive to be wrong, and do my best to finagle a desirable outcome.
Yet, regardless of my tireless efforts, the Universe always has the last word. That’s why it’s important to accept I have absolutely no control over what happens next. Still, I am not completely powerless—I can decide how to respond to what comes my way.
Whenever there’s an unexpected glitch, I can choose to be …
… patient instead of irritated by the situation.
… kind instead of short to those around me.
… optimistic instead of pessimistic about the future.
… grateful for what has gone “right” instead of angry about what’s fallen apart.
… understanding instead of critical of uncontrollable circumstances.
Nevertheless, this is a gigantic ask. But knowing our happiness is often impacted by whether we irrationally react or consciously respond makes the concept of going with the flow more enticing.
But what if we were take this one step further … could we find a silver lining to what doesn’t “go our way”? Maybe we’re supposed to meet someone who we wouldn’t have otherwise encountered. Or perhaps being detained prevents us from an undesirable experience. The point is, we never fully understand why our path was delayed or detoured … but if we can trust that it was meant to be, then we’re able to relax into the situation. Even if there is no apparent underlying reason, accepting what is instead of attempting to change it ultimately leads to a more peaceful state of mind.
For now, I can only trust that this extra day in Florida was meant to be. In fact, I don’t need to know the why behind it—the real growth occurs when I release control and trust everything happens for a reason, even when there’s no logical explanation.
“The key to serenity is trusting that the universe has your back.”—Gabrielle Bernstein
When we allow what is instead of fighting to control the situation, a shift occurs. Our breath becomes smoother, there’s less tension in our jaw, and we suddenly comprehend the opportunities instead of focusing on the detriments. We find peace.
“Trust allows the experience of bliss. Bliss is awakefulness. Trust allows you to laugh. Laugh at the richness, the beauty and the playfulness of the universe. Apply consciousness to this process and all roads will lead to home.”—Gary Zukav
Trust … let go … believe … the best is yet to come. Yes, it really is that simple.