Dear God, please 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.
It has been 2 weeks since the new volunteers have gotten here. It
seems like these 2 weeks have really flown by and I feel really close
the new girls. Oh, and this also marks my half way point… crazy!
But since the new volunteers have arrived, I have noticed a
valuable thing about attitudes. Let me preface this by saying that
life here isn’t always 100% comfortable. The bathroom takes a bit of
getting used to and there are many small things that are just harder
here. I quickly learned about the dogs that bark almost all night long
and the chanting that comes from nearby churches that can start as
early as 4am. After I figured out how to use the toilet (as described
earlier, by pouring water into the bowl), I realized it was easy and
no big deal. Not to say I didn’t sometimes wish for a hot shower, but
I think I learned to accept my surroundings pretty quickly (not to
toot my own horn, but just being honest).
Well, it has been a half of a month, and I don’t think my new
roommates have quite accepted the surroundings. I don’t want this to
sound like they aren’t appreciative or they are whiny. I have thought
of it as complaining, but I recently realized that it is simply a
non-acceptance of things. I came to this realization the other morning
when, at breakfast, one of the girls asked me and Peter when we “got
used to” the dogs barking. Peter said, “about a week.” The girls
seemed surprised but didn’t say too much. I thought about it and
realized that I’m not totally “used” to them, and I probably never
will be. But that I have accepted them as part of the surroundings and
Although this conversation sparked my understanding of my own
acceptance, there have been many other conversations concerning the
annoying bits of life here. For instance, every morning there is a
conversation about the loud dogs and the chanting. Often this is
accompanied by a conversation about the hard beds (small foam
mattresses on wood). When we go out, it is always a wondering about
the toilet situation in the restaurant (flushing? Toilet paper?
Usually neither). Last month we might have commented on the flushing
toilet, but it would not have been a main conversation. I think it has
given me a new perspective about a person’s attitude while doing
something a bit out of their comfort zone. I know these girls love
their time here, but I think if they just accepted the non-flushing
toilet and loud dogs, it could be greatly enhanced. But maybe not.
Maybe for them, this is a comforting conversation, to remind them of
where they are and the differences. I don’t really know.
I want to again reiterate how much I like these girls and don’t
think they are unappreciative of what is here (they both have said
they assumed it would be worse). There has been more than one
conversation when one of them would say, “I know I shouldn’t complain,
but it’s hard not to compare it to things I’m used to.” Again, this is
a very understandable statement.
As I was writing this, I remembered the Serenity Prayer, one of the
only prayers I know by heart. I love this prayer and I think this
experience continues to show me why I think it’s so important. I don’t
know if this post is meant as advice for people who are doing new
things or just a place for me to understand my own realization.
Either way, my conclusion is the same: acceptance of uncontrollable
things is a powerful concept.