The Serenity Prayer
For Lent I usually tried to give up something like soft drinks and always failed. So, this Lent I thought that the better thing to do was to give up my time and spend more time in prayer with God. I made a schedule that at 6:30 A.M. I would go up to my room and write out my prayers in a journal before saying them out loud. The reason I write them out is because like many people, I question whether or not God answers my prayers. However, in the past when I have written out my prayers and then months to even a year later looked back on what I was asking for I figured out that God did answer my prayers. Often, I pray the Serenity Prayer and ask for God's guidance in what I am doing in my life as it can be overwhelming.
The prayer is paradoxical in the sense that although you are asking God for Serenity and Courage in order to have both of those you must first possess the wisdom to know the difference. So, really putting the prayer into practice starts with the ending and trying to obtain wisdom. How does one go about obtaining wisdom? It is a gift from God. During this Lent season I have reflected a lot on the obtainment of wisdom. The first concert i went to as a teenager was to see the band, "The Verve Pipe" with their hit song "Freshman" which was about these young people who considered themselves to be wise and invincible which appears to have preceded going out and doing something foolish. The lyrics went "For the life of me, I cannot remember whatever made us think that we were wise and we would never compromise." The people in my life who I consider to be wise did not get that way by having an easy life. They obtained it usually though extreme adversity.
Trying to Put Things Into Practice
In the original version of "Sleeping Beauty" (which was called "Little Briar Rose" by the Brothers Grimm) there were no witches. There were thirteen wise women. When the King and Queen had a daughter they threw a celebration and since they only had twelve plates they invited twelve of the wise women and the left the thirteenth out.When the one who was left out figured out that she was not invited, she stormed into the celebration and cursed the princess as an act of revenge. Of course this was just a story. But, is that really unrealistic? How many people would start gossip about what an awful person this was? How many people would crash a party that they were not invited to as an act of spite? Anger is a hard emotion to deal with. As Lisa Palmer stated, "Anger is just sad's bodyguard". When people are acting out in anger and seeking revenge, are they really accomplishing anything? I do not think that it was wise for the woman who was left out to storm in and curse everyone. However, I do not think that it was wise for the King and Queen to knowingly leave someone out either. Thinking of my own disposition and how I respond when I am conflicted with something I started to pray to God for wisdom realizing that if I were to put the Prayer into practice I would need i.
Listening to God
What could the woman, who was not invited to the celebration have done differently than acting out of revenge? Jesus said, "But to you who are listening: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on the cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do no withhold your shirt. Give to everyone who asks of you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as would have them do to you."--Luke 6:27-31
The True Meaning
It does not mean what most people think that it means. In the day of Jesus it was considered rude to do anything with your left hand. So, if someone were to slap you in the face and you were to turn the other cheek, they would be hitting you with the palm of their hand and by doing so would be indicating you are their equal. They would not be accomplishing what they wanted. To be wearing someone's shirt would be like wearing someone's underwear leaving you naked. To leave someone naked would be the ultimate crime and would leave other people asking, "Who did this?" The Bible says to pray for your enemies. It is said that when anger enters the mind wisdom departs.
As I wast thinking about this I was trying to write a blog on female veterans. When I was reading all the opposition to women going into the armed services I was getting upset with how women were being seen and portrayed when all they wanted to do was serve our country and they were being put down. I wrote a long list of questions to ask female soldiers what they thought of the opposition and a friend who was a soldier pointed out, "What are you trying to say with this?" I realized the questions were upsetting. I was getting upset and the questions I was asking would just upset them when these people needed to be treated the most delicately as they were veterans of armed combat. How you interact with people will affect their attitude. I realized if I act upset, angry, or afraid, it just gets other people in the same disposition. This impacting of peoples' moods includes our facial expressions as well as words.
People reacted to the grumpy cat on Facebook, a cat born with birth defects so it looks sad all the time because that is how people in today's society feel. It is something in which they relate. With the economy the way that it is and us being at war, people are suffering. However, the Bible says to spread joy and to treat others with kindness which in today's society and culture is not what is being taught.
Putting Things Into Persepctive
As I was reading more about Marine Captain Amy McGrath who served our country, there was a part in the book I was reading where shortly after she came home from Iraq, she went to a different kind of a celebration than what was portrayed in "Little Briar Rose". It was a wedding. People wanted to know battle scenes and were asking her questions about the war. She was not prepared to answer these questions. So, she finally went off in a corner and started getting tears in her eyes. Her uncle, who was Vietnam veteran went up to her and said, "I know. I know." I have to ask myself which would be worse not being invited to a celebration or going through something like that? Maybe instead of being angry at not being invited to the celebration in "Little Briar Rose" the woman should have concentrated on how much she had in comparison with other people rather than letting herself be filled with rage and spite followed by acting on it.
The command given to Moses, "Thou Shall not Kill" means not saying something that will kill someone pyschologically, too. To throw someone down verbally or physically is of the antichrist. When Jesus was fasting in the desert for forty days, Satan took him up on a temple and said, "If you are the son of God throw yourself off the temple." Jesus did not do this. The common phrase, "Christ fell off the Cross." is commonly used when describing Christians not acting as Christians. To build up pyschologically or physically is of God. Jesus built the Church and God formed mankind. What if the wise woman figured out how hurt she was by being left out and made it her solemn mission to be sure no one else in the kingdom ever felt that way? By behaving this way, she would be building up everyone else including herself. What will your choice be when someone goes out and injures you by not inviting you or putting you down? Will you turn to God for guidance, and ask for wisdom and build up?