The Courage to Change

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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. 
One morning I was once again pondering this. It was after a couple of horrible weeks where so many lives were taken by three men who chose to destroy lives. I began to think about that first line: God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. I don’t feel very peaceful and I am full of anguish. I am heartbroken over families torn apart and destroyed. I can’t change that. Neither can I change the destruction these men caused. I also can’t change the destructive behavior of those who wish to do harm. I can’t change their minds; I can’t pull them out of their destructive lifestyles. I can’t change people intent on doing evil. I can’t let their behavior destroy my life and cause me to live in fear. I have to learn to let go and let God deal with them. I won’t let them steal my peace. 
The next line: the courage to change the things I can applies directly to me. I can stop blaming organizations for the havoc that is being played out. I can stop blaming politics and religions and stop pointing fingers at others. I must have the courage to look at myself and make sure I am not adding fuel to the fire innocently. What am I doing to aggravate or encourage the situation? I may not like certain organizations or the political system or I may be fearful of certain religions but do I keep that to myself or do I keep others stirred up? Do I take these dislikes and fears to God and discuss these things with him or do I share my negative thoughts with others and stir the pot? 
I say I want change. I say I want others to start loving one another. I say I want the division between races and religion to stop l, but what am I doing to help stop it? When I see someone who is different from me, or worships different from me or believes different from me do I turn and walk away in disgust? Am I willing to sit down and talk out our differences? Do I have the courage to listen and try to understand someone else? It takes courage to stop, sit and listen. The firemen have a motto, Stop, drop and roll.” Maybe I should have the motto, Stop, sit and listen.” Maybe I need to express my opinion a little less and listen more to others who are different or struggling with issues I will never understand or experience. It takes courage to be honest about yourself and to seek change. In this verse we are asking God to give us that courage. Do we mean it or do we just say it without thought?
And the wisdom to know the difference is the last statement. I can’t change others I can only change myself. But something amazing seems to happen when we change; when we are willing to stop, sit and listen to others they begin to sit and listen to us. When we reach out in love putting our differences aside we begin to love and see one another in a different light. 
This world will only be a better place when I stop blaming others and I start searching myself and asking some tough questions. 
My prayer is that God will give me the wisdom to know I can’t change people on my own, but if I allow Him to change those things that I can change and allow Him to work through me and start loving all people and see them as Gods created people then maybe just maybe I can make a difference in someone’s life. Just maybe one person’s life will be changed. But it all starts with the courage to change those things I can change. 
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.
This has new meaning for me. God has opened my eyes to understand there are some things I can’t change, but those things I can I must have the courage to step up to the plate and ask God to help me change. Then seeking God’s wisdom in knowing maybe by me changing my attitude and living in a different way and loving others, truly loving others I might just make a difference in someone’s life. 
Do you have the courage to seek the change that is needed in you? Do you have the courage to stop, sit and really listen to others without judging them, criticizing them, and always expressing your opinion? God grant that we may experience peace and love in the days to follow. 
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also, and from one who takes away your cloak do not withhold your tunic either. Give to everyone who begs from you, and from one who takes away your goods do not demand them back. And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.
“If you love those who love you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who do good to you, what benefit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. And if you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to get back the same amount. But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.
—Luke 6:27-35
Dear Lord, Please be with those who are dealing with a deep, deep grief. Please be with those who might be in danger or could lose their life just because they are called to serve and protect others. Help me to realize there are some circumstances I can’t change; there are some people I can’t change and there are some things that are beyond me. Give me the courage to change those things in me that I need to change to help with the problems we face. Give me the courage to reach out and have a relationship with those who are different, who worship different and who I sometimes fear. Give me the opportunity to stop, sit, and listen. Help me to truly listen, truly care and truly reach out to love more. Thank you Lord for being in the midst of all of this. Amen
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