Beyond Clichés

Becoming so heavenly minded that we are of some earthly good.

The Serenity Prayer: Acceptance and Courage

Serenity Prayer Mug

The Serenity Prayer goes like this,

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.

– Unknown

I like this prayer. I first heard it in A.A. meetings and quickly memorized it. When people in the 12 step meetings talked about it they would explain the benefits of accepting things we could not change and “living life on life’s terms”. I learned how to accept people, places and things just the way they were.

After embracing a lifestyle of acceptance I experienced a degree of peace that I liked. I still struggled with depression, anxiety, a bipolar disorder and drug cravings  but acceptance became the antidote that brought peace in the midst of all these negative things. I experienced a lot of chaos in my life up until the time I got into AA and this new acceptance mentality was a breath of fresh air.

I found out I was a drug addict and suffered from an incurable disease called addiction. I could deny it or accept it. I chose the latter. I learned that although I had a disease, there was a way to live clean and sober. I accepted this new way of living because it was better than what I had known up to that point.

Goodbye Acceptance. Hello Courage.

I parted ways with acceptance after I was introduced to courage. After I was born again I was healed from the mental disorders and from this “incurable” disease of addiction. I then realized that I had choices. I no longer had to use acceptance as my coping mechanism. I now had a power greater than myself living inside of me and could change things that I had learn to accept.

After Jesus saved me and filled me with His Spirit my life changed forever. I no longer had to “live life on life’s terms” like I was taught. Instead I learned I could do all things through Christ who strengthens me and that with God all things are possible. My worldview was flipped upside down and “courage to change” took on a whole new meaning.

I’ve met many people on my journey that share my enthusiasm for change. People that hear the advice “accept life on life’s terms” and just cringe. These are people who know they were not born just to witness the destruction around them; they know they were created for a far greater purpose.

Don’t Accept Everything That Happens As God’s Will

I encourage you not to succumb to the wisdom of this world that tempts you to accept everything that happens as God’s will. Know that God wants to co-labor with you to accomplish His purposes in your life and in the world. There is a real power that can work in you to change the most difficult circumstance. The Word of God will anchor your soul to withstand the storms of life. Stand firm on His Word because it is more real then anything else!


As I was researching the history of the Serenity Prayer I found out that the most popular version, which I quoted above, is by an unknown author. The actual prayer reads:

“Father, give us courage to change what must be altered, serenity to accept what cannot be helped, and the insight to know the one from the other.”

-Reinhold Niebuhr

About Josh Monen

Josh is a Christian, entrepreneur and writer from Ridgefield, WA. He's married with three kids: ages 4, 2 and 1. Before he met God, Josh was a drug addict with a $500/day cocaine addiction that almost killed him. Today he's seeking a real authentic relationship with God and others.


  1. Larie Simmons

    04/21/2011 at 9:08 pm

    Joshua: These are very powerfull statments. I too understand the power of Christ in my life. I began my journey the same way as you, in recovery almost 21 years ago and received the full power of His salvation 17 years ago. We must be carefull though, we have a great responsibility to allow God’s spirit to bring people to Himself and not abort the process. Each person in and outside of the rooms of recovery is drawn to Christ only by that same sweet Spirit, not any one person. We can however allow God in Christ to love, encourage and forgive people through us, for we posess non of these atributes of our own. I believe that the AA program is perfect just as it is and divinely inspired. A tool that He has created through mankind to bring people to the foot of the bridge that must be crossed in order to receive enternal life.

    • Joshua Monen

      04/24/2011 at 9:45 pm

      Larie, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts here. I enjoy meeting others who have been delivered from the chains of addiction. I agree that it is the Spirit of God, and not man, that draws people to Himself. I also believe that many times He uses vessels (you and I) to work through (Jesus said that out of our bellies would flow rivers of living water and that Christ in us is the hope of glory). So it’s not about us but God has chosen to use us and I think it’s wise to be sensitive to that.

      AA is a great program and it has helped me in many ways. It wasn’t my intention to throw stones at the program. What I wanted to share was a message from my heart about courage. This is what it was like for me, what happened, and what its like now. I was powerless and then I got filled with the power of God and now my life is forever changed. When I say I parted ways with acceptance, I mean that I no longer accept everything that happens as “God’s will”. I believe there are times we need to be strong and courageous and fight. I realize I can only fight by the grace of God but it doesn’t mean I can’t fight. The good news is truly good news! Thanks for hearing me out.

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