"How did you do it, Dad? How have you managed to not take a drink for almost 20 years?" It took me almost 20 years to have the courage to even ask my father this very personal question. When Dad first quit drinking, the whole family was on pins and needles every time he got into a situation that, in the past, would have started him drinking again. For a few years we were afraid to bring it up for fear the drinking would begin again.
"I had this little poem that I would recite to myself at least four to five times a day," was Dad's reply to my 18-year-old unasked question. "The words were an instant relief and constant reminder to me that things were never so tough that I could not handle them," Dad said. And then he shared the poem with me. The poem's simple, yet profound words immediately became part of my daily routine as well.
About a month after this talk with my father, I received a gift in the mail from a friend of mine. It was a book of daily affirmations with one affirmation listed for each day of the year.
It has been my experience that when you get something with days of the year on it, you automatically turn to the page that lists your own birthday.
I hurriedly opened the book to November 10 to see what words of wisdom this book had in store for me. I did a double-take and tears of disbelief and appreciation rolled down my face. There, on my birthday, was the exact same poem that had helped my father for all these years! It is called the Serenity Prayer:
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.