“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.” ~ The Serenity Prayer
This prayer was written by the American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971). The prayer was later adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs. It has always resonated with me for its simplicity and profound clarity.
The Courage part of this is something that has resonated with me a lot lately. Courage is taking action toward a goal without any certainty or promise of the outcome. Speaking out for change within our gymnastics culture always gives me pause because I know I will be misunderstood by some—even my intentions have come into question. However, I choose to continue to advocate for change, encouraging a conversation with legendary elite coach Mary Lee Tracy and the moderator of the world’s most influential gymnastics podcast, Jessica O’Beirne of Gymcastic. I believe change begins with an open dialogue, but I also know full well that I am putting myself out there for scrutiny, misinterpretation and backlash. Enter Courage.
They say, “Courage is facing your fear and doing it anyway.” To me, that sentence is incomplete. I’ve always felt it should add, “Courage is facing your fear and doing it anyway with conviction.” Not just with confidence, but with conviction… the belief that it will work out. When you recognize Courage as a deliberate choice with conviction rather than an apprehensive step with fear you become empowered to effectively exercise it.
Every single day we encounter challenging moments. We can choose to step forward confidently or give in to our multitude of fears and remain where we are. I’ve learned a massive lesson on Courage: When I take the daily opportunities to bravely flex my Courage muscle, my ability to tap into my positive energy well of Courage gets easier. Flexing my Courage muscle is like flexing my Compassion muscle or any other trait I desire to have. In order to achieve something, we need consistent repetition. We need to consistently work whatever muscle we’re striving to build even though we know Fear, Incompetence, and Insecurity will rear their ugly heads in an attempt to keep us in the stranglehold where they can manipulate us into thinking we’re not worthy of something better.
Ugly interpersonal impersonators come in all forms and can even disguise themselves as Care. Care can seemingly say, “This might hurt you, embarrass you. It’s controversial. Don’t do it. It’s not worth it.” This is where Faith comes in. Faith allows you to wave off these Care impersonators. Faith is where logic gives way for the unknown. Faith is the safety net that says, “Even if you don’t achieve your desired goal, you are stronger for flexing your Courage muscle in the first place.” Faith, like everything else we do, is a choice. Faith, in this instance, resounds with a strong “Atta girl. Proud of you for stepping out of your comfort zone for something worthwhile.” Regardless of how my attempt plays out, the “Atta girl” makes it all worthwhile.
So, “God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can (with conviction), and Wisdom to know the difference.”