Did Reinhold Niebuhr have loved ones living across an ocean? It seems to me he must have when he wrote the Serenity Prayer: “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.”
I was not very good at “accepting” my son and daughter-in-law’s announcement of going to the field and taking my sweet little grands with them to a Caribbean island called St. Kitts. WHERE? I’d never heard of it and couldn’t even fathom where it was except too far and not America and away from safety and good healthcare and… the list went on and on. What if something really, really bad happened to them and we were too far away to help? What if, what if, what if.
But, they had a five year plan to allow God to prepare them. Ah hah! My plan was to watch my will be done (as we all know, moms are all-knowing when it comes to their family) and they would see their folly! Our family just didn’t go far away, and how could I be a part of helping to raise my grands and finish raising my son? Oh no, I was sure in five years’ time, they would find out they should be right here together with all their loved ones and support systems in place.
Next, Courage. Wow! I was short on this. Notice in Niebuhr’s prayer he boldly prefaces it with the one word that makes all the difference, “God”. Over those five preparation years, I saw miracles. Only divinely possible. My heart was changing. I was being given courage to let go. Not easy, especially for this mama. All the doors that started opening, all the steps that needed to be in place, divinely being put in place. I was awed more than once! Could this bold step into overseas life be real? Slowly my fears and anxieties and sadness were given a back seat. Not gone, mind you, but I was given courage to look beyond my emotions and feel peace about their decision and share their feeling of being called to serve. What a God-miracle in my heart to have the courage to accept this and feel peace. I was beginning to know what exactly “being well with my soul” actually felt like.
Okay, here comes “Wisdom.” God helped me turn around and change my whole attitude. I was given wisdom to know His will far exceeded my little selfish desires. And it was great! It freed me! I could know how God was working in spite of me. I could trust Him and didn’t have to feel the need “to protect and serve” them. It was ok to let go. It felt good!
I was given wisdom to know I shouldn’t change anything and my acceptance of God’s will for this part of their lives was exciting and the expectations to see Him using them was strong. I am still awed!
So, do I still fret and miss them like crazy? Oh my goodness, YES! I really thank God for his gift of electronics and FaceTime. I thank Him for giving me wisdom to use this tool. It is not the best way to be with your child and his dear family. It is not the best way to bond with the grandchildren. But it sure is wonderful. I have never felt left out of their lives as I am sure God is keeping us all in His will, in His time and in His way. What more can a mom and grandmommy ask for?
This is my story in this journey of my overseas Kingdom-minded family. It was not easy and some days (especially with holidays coming) it is hard. But as my friend Reinhold so elegantly prayed, God granted me acceptance, wisdom and courage. I need a good daily dose of all these on most days but in the difficult times “It is well with my soul.” So, Reinhold, thank you for sharing your prayer and bless the circumstances that put it on your heart.
Has the Lord used a Scripture or prayer to work in your heart as you’ve made a decision or learned to let go?