A few months ago, my Pastor gave me Reinhold Niebuhr’s version of the Serenity Prayer, and I have been praying it every day since. One line that continually catches my attention is, “…taking this world as it is, not as I would have it.”
Talking with a friend the other night, she was expressing her desire for a romantic relationship. She wants to be married, and she has wanted that for a long time. But marriage has not happened. Sometimes, long-held, unfulfilled desires can be the most challenging in terms of acceptance.
I asked if she knew Niebuhr’s Serenity Prayer, and she did. I then asked her what it would mean to accept the world as it is in the context of her desire to be married. My question startled her because she does not want to accept that she might not ever get married. She had been talking about a man in whom she sees potential for a romantic relationship. I could hear the hope and high expectations that this man might be the one and that this relationship be the one that would fulfill her desire to be married.
The week before this conversation, I was on a Hawaiian cruise. In anticipation of the cruise, I had joked that I was ready for a shipboard romance and was going to view this cruise as a Love Boat. I was only half joking, because, like my friend, I, too, desire a relationship.
Sitting on my balcony on the ship, looking out at the vast ocean, I was transported back to the time when Jim was sick and we were at the New Jersey shore. He would look out at the ocean and say, “Think big thoughts.”
As that memory filled me with gratitude for Jim and our long friendship, the words from Niebuhr’s prayer came back to me.
How do I think big thoughts and still take the world as it is?
That question led me to a deeper reflection on what I really wanted.
Since Jim died, I miss his company. I miss having someone to cook for and eat with. I miss his presence in the house, even if he was just watching sports on television while I went on about my life. I miss his help with household chores and making household decisions.
I realized that what I desire is companionship, and I prayed to be more aware of and open to opportunities for companionship. Perhaps a good place to start looking for companionship is to open my eyes to the people already in my life and just becoming more engaged in activities in my community. I am blessed with family and friends who care deeply about me, and maybe I just need to put myself out there a bit more and admit my desire.
Perhaps if I let go of what has been and open myself to the world as it is, I will discover what I most desire is actually right in front of me.
Standing at the airport luggage carousel when I returned home from the cruise, a man from the plane started chatting me up. I smiled at the thought that I must be sending signals that I am open to relationship. It is what I desire.
Madeline Bialecki grew up in Detroit and recently returned after living in Philadelphia for twenty-eight years. She began writing about her spiritual journey and faith life after the death of her best friend in 2012. She likes to read, knit, bake and garden. She shares her spiritual journey here.