I’ve always had trouble with one phrase in the serenity prayer, “to accept the things that cannot be changed.”

The original, attributed to Niebuhr, is:

God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.
            Living one day at a time,
            Enjoying one moment at a time,
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace,
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as it is,
Not as I would have it,
Trusting, that You will make all things right,
If I surrender to Your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.
 What if the things I cannot change are unfair, damaging, painful, sinful, and just wrong?  Is it OK for me to say that these things are in fact wrong? May I call a spade a spade? Wouldn’t anything else be false and God hates falsehood and truth sets me free. When John the Baptist confronted Herod, wasn’t that a situation he could not control yet he stood up and called sin, sin. Of course he lost his head over it.
I like my version of the prayer:” God help me to do the little I can and like myself when it isn’t that much!”

I think that what I am called to accept is that my GRACE-strength, MERCY-worth,          and PEACE– hope are not attached to how the situation turns out after I have obeyed and done my part. That I am free to love the unlovable people who won’t let me change them, to pray for them and do good to them. I need to turn to God and cry out Thanks! Help! and Show me what I can do, rather than focus on what I can’t

When Joseph’s brothers were trying to figure out why he hadn’t killed them all when he could; they concluded that it was because Joseph didn’t want to cause their father pain. When Jacob died, they all ran over to Joseph and begged him to not take it out on them. They still didn’t get it, so Joseph had to explain.

And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God?

But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive

Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them. Genesis 50:19-21 KJV
Do you see how Joseph didn’t say that their deeds weren’t evil, but he had a God big enough to bring a higher good out of the evil situation and even turn around and do good to his hateful brothers?
Radical acceptance hates the evil and attacks it even if it seems hopeless and feels great for the privilege of being a fellow soldier and sufferer with Jesus, not attaching my own worth to doing things perfectly or getting a perfect result.



  1. I think that acceptance and forgiveness go hand and hand. I find that when I forgive someone that I cannot change (disagree with their choices and want to get involved) I need to forgive the offenses that they many have caused to me and to forgive myself for “falling” into wanting what I think is best for them or the situation. But who am I? I ask God to show me what I can do something about and courage and commitment to do it and accept that as enough. I have also learned to step back and think to be able to respond as God would want me to. But too often my impulsive emotions gets the better of me and I find myself running back to God to help me. I am so grateful that he is a loving, forgiving and patient Father. Joyce Meyer has shown me a prayer that I say daily: I ask of God to annoint my ears to hear his voice, my hands to work his plan and my feet to only go where he leads me. to Sanctify me for his purpose and to circumise my heart to desire what he desires for me. Thank you for reminding me that when I am weak I can be strong in Jesus.

  2. But WHY do I even HAVE to be a fellow-sufferer with Him?! I DON’T feel happy about the evil parent God gave me, I have spent thousands and thousands of dollars in therapy, years of my life have been taken from me, and I screwed up my step-son in the process, I mean royally screwed. He won’t even talk to me, and I think he’s justified in his bitterness. Why won’t God just make it better?!

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