Grant me the serenity to accept the truth about the people I love, the courage to ask for better behavior from them, and the wisdom to know where to put the bar.
Marriage is tough because each of us, deep at our core, want to feel unconditionally loved and accepted. Criticism feels like betrayal or abandonment. Yet, to create a loving environment for our spouses, we must learn how to treat them, what they need from us and how to best support them. That feedback is crucial, and often tough to hear.
Raising kids means guiding them to manage their behavior and their feelings with maturity while making sure they too experience that unconditional love and acceptance. We want to love them with high expectations and space for lots of messiness.
Each of us has a fantasy relationship, a fantasy partner, even fantasy kids- a family where people don’t fight, where we feel secure and loved at all times. We planned on marrying someone amazing who would give us beautiful children. Instead we married someone deeply flawed with childhood attachment wounds that match the ones we had been trying to hide. Then two deeply flawed and wounded adult children got some less than perfect babes with decades of struggles and lessons ahead who we know will someday bring their own attachment wounds to their own relationships. That is the cycle of life. (And serious job security for me!)
Being in relationship requires us to be open to being deeply hurt. It is impossible not to have expectations of those we love and expectations lead to painful disappointments. Learning to be a parent, learning to be partnered means hurting them, letting them down…over and over again.
Can you lean in and learn to love the mess? Can you choose the struggle? Can you learn to see your flaws in where you stumble? The path to enlightenment is to deepen our ability to give and receive unconditional love and acceptance. It is rocky road that will bring you to your knees. Honestly- I can’t recommend it, it just doesn’t seem be optional. I guess this is the human condition… on the road to nirvana, learn to brush yourself off, be gentle with yourself and love deeply.
Did you know that Reinhold Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer has a lovely second verse?
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.
Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.