Outcomes: Out Of My Hands

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.

My goal is to hold loosely to expectations.

This week I am praying with open hands, palms up:

Lord, I am willing to receive what you give…

Today’s Challenge: How about you? 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.




  1. Deana Campeau
    Aug 24, 2011

    Your blogs are like manna to my soul. I look forward to learning how to lean more fully on God, and this one really hit the spot. It is so hard to give things fully to God, and not go back and pick them up time and again. Thank you, once again, for opening the eyes of my soul to God’s perfect will.

  2. marcia wilson
    Aug 24, 2011

    Well said, Kathy.

    I’ve felt badly about the car-crunching incident last night and the things you said helped me!

  3. alyssa wood
    Aug 24, 2011

    Love your blog Kathy! I hope all goes well with the book I would love to read it!

  4. Kathy Fortney
    Aug 25, 2011

    Thank you for your wisely worded blog. These are definitely words that I need to remember and live.

  5. Cho Hui Lim
    Aug 25, 2011

    Praise to God!!! Thank you for your sharing again!!! Yes, to leave outcomes in God’s hands, our serenity level is high. I will pray in the way you taught me last time with my hands open and palms up tonight. 🙂

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