I Like to Be in Control
“I like to be in control” would probably be the mantra for my life. I think that is a trait I inherited from my mom who was born in the Oklahoma territory. However, after 70 plus years on this earth, I have learned that being in control is a fantasy. All it takes to remind me of this truth is that medical diagnosis call or when death intrudes into my central fantasy.
The other day, events came together so that I could be with my daughter’s family as the veterinarian gently ended the life of their 14-year-old pet. As I watched Loxie’s eyes close for the last time, I realized that yes, those words I heard on Ash Wednesday are so true. “From dust you have come and unto dust you shall return,” as the ash cross was traced on my forehead. Control, what control?
There will be times we need to remember the Serenity Prayer, when our control fantasies are shattered. I was attending a “dealing with trauma” conference for 1st responder chaplains. We had tremendous leaders, and for three days we learned again how trauma affects all of us, especially in gut-wrenching, mind-numbing disasters, large and small.
At the end of the conference, the police psychologist said he wanted to leave us with the words of the Serenity Prayer in our ears. He went on to quote the familiar lines by Reinhold Neibuhr.
“God give us Grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, Courage to change the things which should be changed, and the Wisdom to distinguish the one from the other.”
But then he asked if we realized that the above words are only part of the prayer! Like most of us, I had no idea that there is more, but there is more!! He read the rest of the prayer.
“Living one day at a time, Enjoying one moment at a time, Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, Taking, as Jesus did, This sinful world as it is, Not as I would have it, Trusting that You will make all things right, If I surrender to Your will, So that I may be reasonably happy in this life, And supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.”
The psychologist then pointed out that as chaplains, we stand with officers and people who suffer terribly, and we cannot do a thing except bring a “ministry of presence.” There are no answers. In those times, he said we can remember this prayer which reminds us we live in a “sinful” world, a world where none are immune to “hardships” and where we can only expect to be “reasonably happy.”
We can trust that we are held by a loving God who in the end “will make all things right” as we live into God’s divine will, as we “live one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time,” with a serenity that can only come from above.
Dr. Charles L. Houston, Jr. is the Senior Chaplain with the Georgia Department of Public Safety (Georgia State Patrol/Motor Carrier Compliance Division). www.chaplaincharles.org
May 2018 Issue of Real Hero Report
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