Got expectations?

How’s your serenity?

According to the Big Book* of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), our serenity (sense of wellness, peace of mind) is “inversely proportional” to our expectations. Therefore, when we anticipate a particular outcome with a person or situation, our serenity is low – especially when they are not cooperating with our plans!

When we leave outcomes in God’s hands, our serenity level is high.

AA made the prayer of Reinhold Niebuhr famous:

God, Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Ah, yes – the wisdom to know the difference…

It is not wrong to have expectations. It is a problem, however, to expect or demand that life go our way.

The disciples on the road to Emmaus had expectations. They were bemoaning the death of Jesus, “but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel” (Luke 24:21). Hindsight is 20/20. We know that the outcome God planned through the death and resurrection of Jesus was far beyond their expectations. There is a lesson for us in that.

I believe that God’s plan for me is always the best plan, but sometimes I am like my friend who said, “I never let go of anything I didn’t leave my claw marks in!” That is why I am grateful for that famous author, “Unknown,” who wrote this prayer:

Lord, I am willing to receive what You give, to lack what You withhold, to relinquish what You take, to suffer what You inflict, to be what You require.

I like peace of mind, so when I am asking God for direction regarding my hopes and dreams, I pray with my hands open and palms up, as a gesture of surrender of that thing or person to God.

In April I signed on with an agent. He is currently representing my book proposal to a number of publishing houses.

My hard work and dream of being published is out of my hands. I had the courage to change what I could: I gained new skills at writers’ and speakers’ conferences. I have honed my craft. I have followed the suggestions of mentors. And then, I did the work. 

Whatever the outcome, I gave my best effort. I can live with that.

How about you? Are you willing to hold loosely to expectations? Join me in  praying with open hands, palms up: Lord, I am willing to receive what you give…

Today’s Challenge: Got expectations? Want serenity? Consider this: Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed. The LORD works out everything for his own ends….In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps” (Proverbs 16:3, 4 & 9).

* Alcoholics Anonymous, Third Edition, New & Revised 1976 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc, p. 452.

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