I recently wrote about trying to get things done rather than worrying about them in Time to Stop Worrying and Start Doing. That is easier said than done, and more than once I’ve caught myself saying the serenity prayer. It is attributed to theologian Reinhold Niebuhr in several forms, but this is the most common form:
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.
My biggest worry over the last 8 months has been identity theft. It started out with a handful of debit card transactions on my husband’s debit card. They took place in the city where he works, which is across the country from where we live. I happened to be in Germany on business and knew my husband was at home with the kids, so I called the bank and reported the fraud. Later, my husband was issued a new debit card, and as soon as he activated it, someone withdrew money and we once again canceled his card.
A few months went by and then we got a notice in the mail about my husband selling some company stock…stock we were holding onto to pay our son’s tuition. In looking into his retirement and investment accounts, we discovered that someone had taken a loan against his 401(k) as well as cashing in the stock. The investment company opened an investigation, but they have never reimbursed my husband’s accounts.
Then, when we thought we’d dealt with it all, the two credit cards we use on a regular basis were both hacked as well. At this point, we got our home owners insurance renewal in the mail and I saw that we had identity theft coverage. What a relief. I called and filed a claim and they sent me a bunch of forms to fill out and referred us to a third-party consultant to help us through the process.
The first thing they recommended was filing a police report because they would give us 90 days of credit protection without it and seven years with it. Not long after, I went to the police station to file the report. My case was so complex that the officer on duty asked me to put together a summary and make copies of all the supporting documents.
Within a few days I’d put together the requested information, but by then it dawned on me that my husband was really the one who needed to file the report, or at least we should do it together. That was about the time that my husband got very ill while traveling on business. Between that and several crises at work, he was traveling almost non-stop for the next month. The identity theft consultant had to close our account, but assured me they’d open it as soon as I sent them the signed affidavit.
Last night, we finally made it to the police station to make the report. Thanks to my detailed preparations, it took us under 10 minutes to file the report. This has been a worry bead…or more like a worry boulder, keeping me down and stressing me out for over a month. I kept trying to tell myself that this was a situation where I only had limited control and therefore I should be trying to have the serenity to accept it…but frankly that didn’t help as having partial control meant I really needed to keep it at the top of my mind until I could take a concrete step forward. The serenity prayer has a hole in it, apparently. The full text of Niebuhr’s prayer is:
God, give me 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.
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.
Find the Joy in the Journey, and strive to put your life in perspective so that you can enjoy the serenity that you deserve!