Letting go of the things we can’t change requires a shift in perspective. We have to see relationships in a new light. Boundaries that were invisible to us before start to become clear. We begin to realize we’ve been trying to control things that really are not our responsibility.
In this process of learning to let go, these wise words have helped me to clarify what it’s like to let go.
Letting go. Having “the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,” in the words of the Serenity Prayer.
We want that serenity; we want to let go. We’re tired of constantly trying to control things that we can’t change. We’re tired of worrying, criticizing and obsessing.
But how can we learn to let go? What are actions that we can take that can help us grow in our ability to accept the things that we can’t change?
I’ve been thinking a lot about the first part of The Serenity Prayer these days. You know, the part that goes, “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change.”
It often seems like I live my life by another prayer, one that goes something like, “God, please bless my attempts to control the things I cannot change.”
When my oldest child was about three years old, I received a valuable parenting tip from a pastor friend. I immediately started applying it to my own parenting, and over the years it has served my husband and I well in raising our four children. I call it my number one Parenting Rule of Thumb. It’s this: Empathize with feelings, while still holding the line.
One of the most common complaints of couples who come to me for counseling goes something like this: “My spouse should know what I want without being told. If he really loved me, he’d know what I need. I shouldn’t have to spell it out for him.”
Somehow we come into marriage wanting our spouse to be so attuned to us that they will be able to pick up on the tiniest of cues, know us better than we know ourselves, and intuitively discern exactly what we want and need from them at any given moment. We expect our spouse to read our mind.
Many years ago, a Christian marriage and family therapist I knew celebrated his birthday by surprising his wife with the news that he wanted a divorce. He called it his “gift to himself.”
Tragically, this man did not realize that he wasn’t doing himself any favors by divorcing his wife. What was truly best for him would have been to learn to love his wife, to invest in their marriage and to keep their family together. He did what seemed easiest and sacrificed his long-term best interests. He celebrated self-centeredness and called it self-care.
In this busy world, with its unending demands on our time and energy, it’s easy to become depleted. If we want to avoid burnout, we must practice healthy self-care. In previous posts, I made the case for self-care, discussed why we don’t practice self-care, and talked about how healthy self-care involves both nurturing and limits. Now it’s time to talk about some practical how-to’s. This post will talk about the nurturing, compassionate part of healthy self-care, and next week’s post will wrap up this series on self-care by covering the disciplined, limit-setting part of healthy self-care.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In observance of this important issue, I decided to review the book HUSH and address the issue of childhood sexual abuse.
Nicole Braddock Bromley was sexually abused by her stepfather from about age 4 until she was 14 years old. At age 14, she told her mother, charges were filed, and her stepfather committed suicide. Nicole now is the founder of OneVOICE Enterprises and travels around the country bringing a message of healing for victims of sexual abuse.
Once a pastor’s wife sat in my office, weeping. As she dried her eyes, she asked, “Do other pastor’s wives ever feel like this?”
“YES,” I said. “Yes. They do.”
As the wife of a pastor for over 30 years, and more recently as a marriage and family therapist who works with spouses of ministry leaders, I am very aware of the isolation that many pastor’s wives feel. Being the wife of a pastor can be rewarding and fulfilling, but it can also be stressful and lonely.
I remember caring for four young kids. Days were full of driving carpools, changing diapers, buying groceries, doing laundry, overseeing homework, interruptions, conversations, decisions and stress. Life felt crowded.