“I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” -- Philippians 4:12-13 (NASB)
Courage is accepting things we cannot change and changing the things we can.
We all need courage. Courage to face conflict, career changes, illnesses, loss and difficult tasks. Courage to take on new challenges, try new things and embrace our God-given gifts.
In my book, Courage For Life, I talk about the importance of exercising our courage muscles at all ages and stages in life. I know from personal experience just how much our past can complicate our present. Sadly, we can’t change our past, but we can work to identify how and why we have allowed past issues to affect our lives today.
In order to identify and overcome issues that negatively impact our lives, we need to discern the difference between who and what we can and cannot change. Understanding these differences is critical in our journey to realize what to accept and what to courageously change.
There are three courageous steps we need to take in order to begin working through this very important step.
- Recognize while you can’t change your past, you can change how you respond to it.
I sought the help of a professional Christian counselor to work through issues from my past. I encourage you to reach out to a professional counselor or pastor who can help you work through the things in your life that hold you captive.
- Learn to forgive and let go.
Extending forgiveness to those who have hurt us goes against our human nature. Yet God commands us to forgive one another. Matthew 6:14-15 says, “For if you forgive others of their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (ESV) Understanding and extending forgiveness is a significant part in being able to walk forward in freedom.
- Focus on changing the one person you can change –– you.
While we can encourage and influence others, we must realize the decision of how they believe, behave, act, or react is completely up to them. But being able to accept the things we cannot change, doesn’t mean we settle for the way things are. It means we get smart and stop trying to change someone else’s behavior or choices. And, it means we change our focus and shine the light of new direction on ourselves.
Accepting the changeable versus the unchangeable is an ever-present challenge in our lives. Yet it’s one we can overcome as we implement Courage For Life and grow closer to God in the process.
Implement the following three steps and begin your process of acceptance and change.
- Take out two notecards and write the following portion of the Serenity Prayer on each one. Place these cards somewhere where you will see them often throughout the day. Pray this prayer daily for at least seven days and strive to memorize it.
“God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
- Spend time in prayer and communication with God. Ask Him to give you the wisdom to discern the things you can and cannot change.
- Take out a piece of paper and make two columns. Write “Cannot Change” at the top of the first column and “Can Change” at the top of the second column. List the specific things you can and cannot change in your life. Each day ask God to give you the strength to step out and begin to change the things you can. Ask him to help you forgive what needs to be forgiven, accept what needs to be accepted, let go of what needs to be left in the past and to fill your heart with immeasurable joy as you accept the freedom of His forgiveness and the power of His grace.
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