Live by the Serenity Prayer

In the early 1930s, Reinhold Niebuhr was attributed to first creating the “serenity prayer” in his sermons.  Winnifred Crane Wygal, a pupil of Niebuhr, included the prayer in her 1940 book, We Plan Our Own Worship Services,attributing it to Niebuhr. The prayer has been adapted and changed into what we read below today and is used in many mental health and 12-step programs.

sprayer

To break down the ideas in this simple prayer:

  • Don’t sweat small stuff
  • Accept things you cannot control or
    Let them go
  • Pray more for wisdom and strength.

Stress and the Serenity prayer

This is a simple prayer or phrase to remember and remind yourself when you are feeling stressed out. It is freeing to realize that we do not have to control everything, as humans, we cannot control everything. Instead it is helpful to have a higher power to take control of the things we cannot control. Although, this statement can be adapted for people who do not recognize a higher power. The principles are still true, despite religion. You are only in control of yourself and no one else. While in life, there are many things that one cannot control, so the goal is to let those things go and not stress out about those things.

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Guided imagery

The past few weeks, I have been offering mindfulness and relaxation techniques.
Today is no different, this time, I want to offer a guided imagery. This type of activity helps us to slow down and learn to relax.  This is a little more challenging to attempt online in a blog but bear with me.

As with before, begin by getting as comfortable as possible…take a few deep breathes to get relaxed. After reading each statement, close your eyes and try to picture the situation in your mind and read this script slowly, as you follow in on each statement:
Imagine yourself on a tropical island. You can return home any time you wish, but you can stay and enjoy the serenity of the island as long as you care to.
You begin your journey by walking on a beautiful stretch of white sand beach. No one else is in sight. The beach is all yours. The sun is warm on your face…notice a gentle refreshing breeze coming off the water. Listen to the waves flow rhythmically onto the sand. You hear seagulls calling over the powerful ocean. Their voices sound distant compared to the roar of the surf.
You lie in the warm sand to enjoy the peacefulness of this place. The sand is warm and soothing to your body. You close your eyes to the pleasant sun overhead and relax for a while in the comfort of this warmth…as you inhale deeply, you enjoy the fresh smell of the ocean…
Once you feel rested, you notice a grove of palm trees you have never seen before. You start walking toward them…as you get close, you can hear the large palm leaves rustling in the breeze overhead…you find a path entering the grove and follow it…it is much cooler and very refreshing to be in the shade of these trees. As you continue, your path leads you into a tall, dense thicket of tropical plants…it is impossible to see where the path is leading, but you are curious about what lies ahead and also strangely hopeful about what you will find…
After a while, you hear rushing water and see daylight up ahead. You emerge from the thicket and step into a clearing. From a cliff high above, a silver ribbon of waterfall cascades into a pool of water at your feet. The sunlight reflecting off the pool dazzles your eyes…You climb up on a rock at the edge of the pool…and look down into the clear water. The water is the color of sapphires and so deep that you cannot see the bottom.
You look up at the waterfall and notice vividly colored flowers growing out of the rocks along the cliff—blue flowers, lavender ones, red and yellow—all offset by the lush green ferns and moss-covered rocks. As you begin walking toward the waterfall, you come upon a glade of trees covered in orchids. You have never seen so many of the beautiful flowers together. They hang from the trees, forming an enclosure with soft, fragrant walls…now you see things moving among the flowers—crimson and yellow butterflies flitting busily from place to place. You sit down in a sunny spot in the middle of the orchids and butterflies, amazed at the peace and beauty that you alone have discovered…
The sun is warm on your back, and you notice that the sunlight seems to energize the iridescent butterflies as they flutter in and out of it. You, too, begin to feel a sense of renewed energy…and a renewed sense that if you look hard enough, you can find peacefulness and beauty in the world…after today’s journey, you also feel a little more adventurous, more willing to take a path you have not been on before…and less afraid of what lies ahead.

It is now time to return. You can bring the experience of peacefulness and beauty of this tropical paradise with you. Any time you desire, you can close your eyes, breathe deeply, and return to this place.
How was this moment? Was it peaceful and relaxing? Is your mind at ease? There are many similar guided imageries, like this one online. But I also recommend talking to a counselor or pastor, as these professionals are often trained in more specific types of guided imageries. There are Christian based ones and others focused on healing pain/traumatic experiences. It is also helpful to meet a professional, as they have experience at reading these scripts slowly and helping you process after the script is completed.
So now, take with you the most pleasant and peaceful thoughts. For some people it will be laying on the beach and listening to the waves for others it will be sitting on the rock and looking at the wonderful waterfall. Each of us are different and enjoy different hobbies and aesthetics. So when stress or negative things happen to you this week, think upon the imagery that gives you peace. If you have some free time and want to re-read this entire script, please do so or as suggested earlier, find other imageries that are pleasant to you.

Jesus, even in high demand, rested

Imagine a situation with me. If you felt called by God to walk into a cancer ward and to pray for an individual and image that God healed that person. Immediately. The newly healed person felt healed and there was absolutely no sign of the cancer in this person anymore. You and this person would be ecstatic and jumping up and down on the bed. The nurses and doctors would not know what to do. Then as you walked out of the room, you felt God call you to another room to pray for someone else. Then imagine a similar situation occurring, where God heals the person you pray for. If this continued to happen time and time again, at the very least another sick person with cancer would be calling you, more likely the doctors would want to know what you were doing and even more likely the news would be putting you on the spotlight.

This is just one fictional example of what it might be like to experience what Jesus might have experienced. Can you picture it? Jesus must have been in high demand! There must have been word out of his miraculous healings and wonders. I am sure that people were well aware of what he was doing and I imagine that people wanted his time and his healing touch.

Jesus models something else for us that we really need to take into consideration. Jesus took breaks. He rested. He went away to be alone with God, even in his busiest season. Even when people were still hurting and in need. Even when Jesus was demanded and reached a celebrity status of his time….He went away to be with God alone:

Mark 1 : 35 (NIV): Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Mark 6:46- Jesus, after a busy day of healing people, sent people away so that He could be alone in prayer. If you continue reading the chapter there are still people lined up looking for Jesus (v. 55). Again in Matt. 14: 22-23, Jesus dismissed the crowds, so He could go to the mountainside by Himself to pray. Jesus’ priorities were very clear.  Luke 5:16 says that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. This was a habit for Jesus. Jesus quietly slipped away again and again, as it is mentioned in Luke 9:10 also.

Jesus rested on the Sabbath and went to the synagogue (Lk. 4:16), the equivalent of going to church on Sunday. The morning before choosing His twelve disciples, Lk. 6 reports that Jesus spent the night in prayer. Throughout His time on earth as a human, Jesus modeled the importance of taking time off to recharge. This involved a lot of prayer. His source truly was God the Father. We too can follow this example and knell before the Lord God, our Father for strength and refreshment as well.