The Christmas season has a way of causing us to check the pulse on our sanity. Did I get the right gift for mom? What will I take for the Christmas potluck? When will I have time to send Christmas cards? Who’s going to bake the Christmas cookies? Can I even afford Christmas? The questions alone can start to make us crazy and peace on earth may seem like an impossible goal when we can’t even get peace in our homes or in our hearts.
Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer has been a gift to millions of people over the years and its words are always ones to claim whenever possible. Acceptance, courage, and wisdom are never in enough supply and at Christmastime they can seem even further removed. “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.” That’s a great prayer for any day!
With some apology to Niebuhr, I thought I’d offer my own prayer. The Sanity Prayer. God grant me the sanity to accept the things that drop in from out of nowhere, the courage to straighten it all out no matter how it looks, and the wisdom to know that doing something the same way again and again will never make a difference.
So how do we manage the much needed balance of things so we can stay mercifully sane and wonderfully serene? In part, we need to take a look at our perceptions, our expectations, and that little tendency we may have toward perfection. We are only human, but sometimes we expect a superhero self to emerge and flying about the day in our cape with the big red letter S on it we set nearly impossible goals. Perception colors everything. If we perceive things are not as they should be, than we’ve probably already given up the idea of acceptance and may not have the courage to see what else can be done.
It seems to me that we jump right from there to that thing we expect of almost no one but ourselves…perfection. Thomas à Kempis said, “Perfection stands in one offering a heart wholly to God, not seeking self or personal will, either in great things or in small, in time or in eternity, but abiding always unchanged and always yielding to God equal thanks for things pleasing and displeasing, weighing them all in one same balance, as in His love.
Ah, there it is, the point of this reading…sanity and serenity rest in one place and find their balance in one perception that is indeed perfect and that is in God’s great love. It was that great love that sent a “little child to lead” us, that sent a Son to redeem the insanity of our lives and bring us to perfect peace. It is that peace that once we discover it in our hearts, then it rests nicely in our homes, and moves on to our neighborhoods until it reaches its loving arms to stretch around the world. That is the peace we wish each other at Christmas and every day of the year.
So, bake cookies or buy them…send cards to some very special people, pray and give thanks and before you know it, you’ll find acceptance for any situation, courage that exists in full measure, and wisdom that brings you back to eternal truths. Peace prevails whenever love leads the way.
Begin today with peace and love.