Serenity prayer

There is a prayer, popularly known as the serenity prayer, that goes, “Lord, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”  I’ll be teaching that particular devotion to the tribe early and often.

My mother has one sister, who is married and has one child.  I had not seen any of them since my Granny left us in 1990, because of a disagreement between my mom and my aunt.  Because the disagreement escalated to a point where Aunt, Uncle, and Cousin have little to no contact with Mom’s side of the family, they hadn’t had any word of me since the early 2000s.

When Pop-Pop went to join Granny in 2009, I finally learned their last name.

After a modest amount of Internet sleuthing, I located a young man who I believed to be Cousin.  Since I wasn’t completely sure it was he, and wasn’t sure he, Uncle, or Aunt would welcome contact from me, I set a couple of bookmarks so I could contact him later if it seemed advisable.

Last weekend, I happened across a post by him on a website I read periodically, indicating Aunt was in the final stage of a fatal illness.  The advisability of attempting to contact Cousin was no longer debatable.  I posted a quick summary of the situation on Facebook and asked my friends for help in finding good, current contact information for Cousin.

The Lord is good, and sometimes tells me His will by what help He sends.  I contacted Cousin through an online messaging service he uses. He was quite surprised that I had managed to find him, although not displeased, and invited me to visit.  As it happens, they live less than an hour from us.  Cousin and I agreed that whatever else happens, the feud between our mothers will remain between our mothers henceforth.

We visited them yesterday.  Uncle and Cousin assure me that Aunt knew we were there. Cousin conveyed Aunt’s request that Mom not visit her.  My husband and I agreed to honor Aunt’s wishes. We have not yet told Mom of Aunt’s condition.

I hope there will be time for me to visit Aunt again in this world.  We will make the time for Uncle and Cousin.

As it happens, Uncle and I share a profession; we are both educators, although he teaches at the college level.  Cousin shares all of our love of music, my husband’s predilection for video games, and our daughters’ enjoyment of My Little Pony.

I held Aunt’s hand, and kissed her cheek, and told her I was sorry it had taken so much and so long for me to come see her and her family.

When I went to bed last night, and when I arose this morning, I couldn’t shake the thoughts of what might have been, how destructive resentments, grudges, and pride can be.  I have an uncle with stories to share who I’ve met, now, a total of three times.  I have a bright and interesting cousin who I’ve now met twice.  I have an aunt about whom I know next to nothing who is no longer able to tell me her story, and who the tribe won’t remember.  This estrangement has been for my entire adult life.  Has been.  It’s done.

I believe that I had to live every moment of my life exactly as I lived it in order to be who, what, and where I am today.  There have been times where the price has been terrible for my daily joy.  This is one of those times.  If I can go where the Lord leads me through this trial, I know my joy will increase, but I will have to listen more carefully than usual for His voice, because my memory of a grudge with foundations that are unclear to me will be trying to shout Him down.

Please forgive this unusually terse and inelegant post.  And please read Matthew 18.

Today’s prayer:  Lord, thank You for my cousin’s post on a message board that led me back to a part of our family I had given up.  Thank You for giving them enough mercy and love to invite us to visit.

Lord, please forgive me for my unloving thoughts, words, and actions over the past two decades.  Please help me teach Your blessings that there has never been a grudge among two people that has come from You.  Wrath is among the deadly sins for a reason; it cuts off a part of my heart from reaching out in love, and instead allows a hellish brew of anger and resentment to fester where love and forgiveness should be.  Help me teach Your blessings to stand firmly with You when asked to be a part of someone else’s grudge, and when I am tempted not to forgive, or am tempted to bear ill-will because of a wrong alleged by another, please show me my aunt’s face.  When I choose anger, I am spurning Your gifts.  Kindle in me a grateful heart, Lord, one that is open that what blessings You send.  Please grant me, and help me teach Your blessings, a spirit of genuine and generous repentance, instead of useless and selfish guilt.

15 thoughts on “Serenity prayer

  1. This is very timely, for as you know this week our family lost a decades old friend that we considered an uncle. He has an older brother, nephews and nieces and cousins. They have not talked for decades. The parents died and left him a preponderance of assets including their home and he and his brother have not talked since the 80s. Our family became his family. He was so alone, I had to break into his home through a bedroom window on Thursday to do a morale check and call the paramedics. He died at the hospital alone on Friday at 11 am. Life is too short to be angry over “stuff.” Life is too short to allow bitterness to take hold and destroy families.

    My sister’s ex-husband died of lung cancer last year. The wife would not allow his sister to come to the funeral. She now is overwhelmed with guilt and shame for allowing petty things destroy their relationship.

    My sister and I would have never known my father’s mother (our grandmother) had it not been for my mother. My father was deserted by her when he was young and he never forgave her or got over it. We would go to visit and he would sit in a chair and not say a word. At least we got to meet her.

    How very, very tragic! Families without closure, families that allowed bitterness and misunderstand to destroy the closest relationship they should cherish. Half of the misunderstandings could have been resolved by talking but instead people chose to walk in unforgiveness. It breaks my heart!

  2. This is a lesson that most people do not take to heart. Unfortunately, I have had this happen in my family. On several sides, for several years, for many reasons. Too many times the lesson does not get learned or learned from. Between family Feuds and people that leave this Earth too quickly, People should really learn patience, forgiveness and the ability for Love to be the Primary force in your life instead of bitterness. People need to look past the immediate pettiness of the moment and consider the big picture. While the original issue may not be small to anyone, in the grand scheme of things: decades, missed families, and being at peace -no argument with any loved one should come to this ever.

    Because of this very topic, I fight hard to keep family close and my children knowing all of the cousins the best I can. It is not always easy but it is my mission!

    This is response is not coming out as concise as I would like but this is a subject that has been a point in my life too and it breaks my heart every time. And so putting my thoughts down sometimes takes a while with so many things swirling!

    Thank you for you continued Blogs that deal with everyday issues in our lives. The Joyous ones as well as the complicated ones.

  3. Kelly and Leigh Ann thank you for your wonderful words. This entry has me at 6s and 7s. I am the focal point of a similar “feud.” the family that adopted and raised me are furious with me, and have been for almost a decade. I learned from a third party of my adoption at age 27; 3 days before learning I was pregnant. After a couple of drs appts where I had to endure and repeatedly explain why I did not know my medical history I had no choice but to find it out. To say my family was mad at this decision was to state the Pope being Catholic. When my son was born, I was asked if the adoption issue could be put behind us now that I had a “blood relative.” I tried over and over to explain I wasn’t upset, but since they were, then I “must” be too.

    For 6 years I tried to extend the olive branch 100s of time; only to have it snapped in half and thrown back at me. I took my children out of their much needed routines, traveled one way 8-12 hours (depending on which state we were in at the time) so they could see their grandparents and great-grandparents. Despite staying at my grandparents home (which had guest rooms and a play area for very young boys, and was next to my parents house) my parents and brother would spend less than an hour with my children. Gifts would be sent for nieces and nephews for all occasions, with nothing in return or even acknowledgement, despite delivery company tracking confirming it’s arrival.

    When my grandfather died, and I was told I didn’t mourn enough at the services and wake; I decided that was it. Roads run two-ways. I had tried, done all I could; if there was to be a relationship it was their turn to step up. They never did and now 5 years later still have not. I saw my parents at another funeral last year. They walked away after returning my hello. I have had some uncles and aunts plead with me to reconcile, to stop being mad; when I explain I am not, they said my mother had said that was why I didn’t come home anymore. I have had others refuse to speak to me because of the “horrible treatment towards my family.”

    My sons are in the position that the two of you find yourselves, with cousins with stories they will likely never know. What do I do? I am told by friends-who-are-like-family that I look forward, know that I have done my best, i should consider whether these are people who I would want influencing my sons, etc. But stories like yours and the Paradoxical Commandments make me question whether I should try again? At this point, it might lead to divorce and require sedation to overcome the emotional scarring those attempts bring.

    My point in this, consider all sides. Someone may have dragged, pulled, and tied the horse to the drinking trough and the horse still refused to drink, choosing to die. The farmer, land owner, water company, trough builder and rope-maker may all get dragged into blame, but sometimes a horse is just contrary and stubborn.

  4. Normally I read these posts first thing in the morning, but today I didn’t get a chance until after church. My morning was spent focusing on the talk I was asked to give during church services. The talk was on forgiveness, specifically the difficulty of forgiving family. What an ironic world, to find that my friend Kelly and her friend Leigh Ann were both pondering the same topic.

    However, I take the moment to comment here because of Sheri’s words above. Family feuds are difficult in any case, but when the feud centers on a parent’s hurt feelings and feelings that a child has betrayed them, the feud burns so much hotter and leaves so much more destruction in its path. Sadly, the parent, in defending their hurt, often lays the ground work for a much longer and lasting feud. This was the case with my mother-in-law and her son (my husband). While some reconciliation did occur before her death, those she had poisoned during her feud, never learned the truth that it was her pride which had caused the feud to begin with. Life-long relationships are still damaged, and while “peace” has been made, true closeness seems to be gone forever. There is no easy solution when you find yourself faced with claims that cannot be wiped away because the one who made the claim has died.

    I believe that compassion for those who are angry and believe the worse, is the key to finding peace. Sometimes the Lord blesses us with an opportunity to mend broken fences, sometimes He simply helps us mend our broken hearts. Forgiveness, even when the feud is still raging on the other person’s part, does make it easier for us to move forward, even if we make the journey without those we love by our sides. Sadly while we can forgive and we can apologize for any role we may have played in the feud, we cannot bring the other side to acceptance. We can only pray for a day when love can replace hurt, even if it is not during our mortal life.

    My prayers for all of you who have suffered, may God bless you and help you have more good days than bad, more peace than hurt, and more love than feuding.

    And Kelly, thanks for the great posting.

    • I’ll respond to each comment individually tonight, but I wanted to let each of you know you’re in my prayers and also share a thought — isn’t it funny how, sometimes, the Lord gives us a fellowship when we cry from out hearts that we are alone?

  5. Pingback: A Train Ride To Serenity « ConquerorShots

  6. I am praying for you. I am so glad you were able to visit and make contact with the family before you lost your aunt, I’m sure it was a great comfort to her.

  7. Pingback: The evil ego and the vice of pride | dailymomprayers

  8. You know I always say regarding family fueds, “When things like this happen one will treat a stranger or even a dog better than they will their own blood.” Family fueds are sad to me. Time is so precious and how much of it we lose with our loved ones because of pride. Good post and God Bless, SR

    • Thanks, SR. We do lose so much that is precious when we focus on the resentments that small slights can engender if weallow them to. I’ve been just as guilty of it as anyone, but I’m working on that, as I’ve seen how destructive that failure to forgive as I wish to be forgiven can be. Peace be with you. — Kelly

  9. Pingback: Jewels of Wisdom From A Wise Man | SPIRITT'S THINKBOXER

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