History of the Serenity Prayer
Attribution to The Serenity Prayer goes to Protestant theologian Karl Paul Reinhold Niebuhr, but this writer's research finds it inconclusive, thus the word attribution.
I found a few minor variations in the prayer but will give you the unbridged 'original' we have a "We Program." The original Serenity Prayer reflects a similar context as the Lord's Prayer.
God, grant us 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 [some MSS read "He"] 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.
The earliest attribution I could dig up came as follows: researcher Sarah Guzy struck gold when she read a minister Wygul's journal entry dated October 31, 1932. Wygul wrote that "R.N. says that moral will plus imagination are the two elements of which faith is compounded.' "The victorious man in the day of crisis is the man who has the serenity to accept what he cannot help and the courage to change what must be altered."
The second of those Niebur quotations does not fully match the components of the three-way Serenity Prayer, lacking the "wisdom" or "insight" element, but definitely does include the elements involving "serenity" and "courage."
Digging a little further, I found one Mr. Fred R. Schapiro, who edited "The Yale Book of Quotations," who said in an interview, "Reinhold Niebuhr was a very honest person who is very forthright and modest about his role in the Serenity Prayer. Mr. Schapiro went on to say that his interpretation would be that Reinhold probably unconsciously adapted it from something that he had heard or read. Mr. Shapiro, in 2008 was a law librarian at Yale, using new databases of archival documents, had found newspaper clippings and a book from as far back as 1936 that quote close versions of the prayer. The quotes are from civic leaders all over the United States.
Some of them refer to the prayer as if it were a proverb, while others appear to claim it as their poetry. None of them attribute the prayer to a particular source. And they never mention Reinhold Niebuhr.
Whatever the true origin of the Serenity Prayer is, one thing I'm sure of is that this life-saving prayer is rendered in almost every meeting I've ever attended and continues to be recited by many, in and out of recovery.
The Serenity Prayer reminds the individual of the importance of acceptance. Humans can exert an impact on their world, but there are many things that they have no power over. For example, there may be very little that a person can do to alter how other people think. This inability to change some aspects of life can leave people feeling frustrated and full of self-pity or even cause one to wallow in condescension about others. The individuals perhaps used to justify that 'life is not fair' to rationalize their alcohol or drug abuse. Trying to fight against the way things are is a waste of energy, and it can only ever lead to suffering. People find happiness by accepting and working with those things that they cannot change. In Al-Anon, there is a thing known as the "Three C's." I can't Control it, I Can't cure it, and I didn't Cause it. Whether in Alcoholics Anonymous or Al-Anon, there is one who has all power, that one is God, may you find God now.
Serenity is a gift. Courage is a gift. Wisdom is a gift. But all three are gifts we ask for as a decision. God "grant" us the serenity is what we ask. God offers no impositions in life.
Ask, and you shall receive. ODAAT
One member of the RBA Group offered some words of wisdom, and I quote him (thanks, Damnon!): "Serenity to me is ALL our Thoughts, and Wherefore that is within all of Humanity…at every part of your life; that's Every part of Your Life!"
I suspect turning our will and life over to God means we turn ALL of it over. That's our decision in Step 3. Make that decision fearlessly from the very start. And now, a song from some local musicians!
-Timothy C, Dry Sheet
RBA Board of Trustees Minutes
Monday December 13, 2021
Meeting Opened at 7:13pm
Opened with the Serenity Prayer and AA Traditions One and Two. Our mission is to manage the property, finances and 501C3 for the RBA.
1. Members Present:
Norton L., Joe R., Bill M., Cherisse K., Trunette S., Rik L., Jeff S.
Jerry Z., Maintenance, Will S., Bookkeeper, Jim, guest
2. Building & Maintenance Report (Jerry Z.):
Jerry provided a few maintenance updates. First, he wants to move the garbage container to help prevent water from seeping in the back doorway. So far this winter, the asphalt has not risen as it did in previous years, and this the result of diverting water away from the rear entry. Moving the trash containers will help in this effort. Jerry was able to get the last of the fallen leaves off our front lot so our grass will be healthy in the spring. He is working a new switch for the pop machine that will enable us to silence the noise during meetings without forgetting to turn the power back on afterwards. Jerry also plans to tighten many of the door handles and drawers in coming weeks. He was recently notified of a leak in the men’s bathroom which will be fixed soon.
3. Financial Report:
The November financials were approved. We paid down the parking lot line of credit by close to $2,000 thanks to member donations, the Quale family, and the proceeds from the picnic that were applied to this loan. The board voted to pay off the small remaining balance after the donations for December are received and counted. November was a profitable month for RBA due to a few remaining annual pledges that were received as expected.
4. Old Business:
The minutes from the November meeting were approved after a brief recap. We had discussed the transition of the librarian duty from Jim Barnes to Doug Raba, and this is still in process. The board approved Timothy C as the new Dry Sheet Content Coordinator in November, and he successfully submitted content for the December edition which is available on our website. Officers were elected for the board last month, and contact information for these individuals along with the new Board of Trustees has been posted in the glass case in our hallway.
5. New Business:
Garbage removal was discussed at length. Our current vendor is refusing to drive trucks under our low-hanging powerlines to access our dumpster in the back of the building. The board discussed possible alternatives to solve for this. First, we considered hiring an electrician to raise our powerlines, but the cost estimates for this job came in much higher than expected. The second alternative was to create a fence in the front of the building for our dumpster, which may not solve the problem being as trucks would still need to pass under the low lines to access the front landing area. The final option was to replace our dumpster with residential barrels resulting in a small increase to our monthly expense. The board decided barrels were our best option for the near future. We then voted unanimously to give Aspen Waste Systems our contract going forward.
Jim from the Sunday Night 8:00pm Squad 6C visited the board to announce the end of this meeting. The size of the group has diminished over the past few years due to public health concerns. This meeting has been held regularly for over 40 years, so it will be missed.
The Kid’s Christmas party was held on Saturday, December 11th. This drive-through event attracted smaller number of attendees than anticipated, but the children who did visit the club enjoyed their gifts. We are confident this event will be as popular as ever when we are again able to hold this party indoors. Unspent funds will be returned to the club and used for future events. We thank the Saturday Night Squad 5A for their efforts in planning and executing this event.
Dana Jo is planning the annual White Elephant Gift Exchange for January 2nd at 1:00pm. The club is asking members to use their best judgement until COVID rates are once again manageable. Our primary concern is keeping the club open for AA meetings, so every precaution should be taken during social events.
The board approved a $75 gift for our neighbors to the north, Spruce Linen. Mike, and his father before him, have allowed RBA members to use their parking lot on nights and weekends for decades. Spruce Linen is also a valued vendor that provides services to our club.
The meeting was adjourned at 7:55pm after The Lord’s Prayer.
-Joe R., Secretary Board of Trustees
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