by Emily Nay

I do not remember the first time I heard the Serenity Prayer. I do know I have made it my screen saver and displayed it on my walls to remind me of it every day. 

I was sitting in deep prayer with my church peers in similar positions beside me. We were at worship on our annual youth mission trip after a long day working construction. The theme of that year’s trip was change: change houses, change attitudes, change lives. Sitting there, I remember these words flowing through my head, “God, grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, the courage to change the things we cannot accept and the wisdom to know the difference.” This was the first time those words stuck.

Words can have more power than anyone realizes, and these words, have deepened the hearts and opened the eyes of many. Reinold Niebuhr wrote the Serenity Prayer with the intent to empower disciples. It soon reached the Alcoholics Anonymous community. Since then, it has been reused and reworded to become the motto of many admired leaders, including Maya Angelou. 

To me, no words have had greater relevance. From politicians to close friends, I have heard people who like to talk a big game. Unfortunately, they lack the action to execute their talk. Still, I have seen many with the ambition and resilience to put their words into action. These are the ones who create change. 

Kandice Henning is one of these people. I have heard her speak of her epiphany many times. She knew it was her purpose to create a space for teenagers. A place where they could feel safe to discover what makes them “come alive”. The overwhelming challenges she faced did not deter her from opening the Alive Center. With its opening, she not only created a place for teens to discover themselves but a place that inspired others to create change.

I have been on the Teen Advisory Board for going on four years now and I could not ask for better mentors to guide me. Their mission to be “a teen-led, teen-driven center focused on empowering the youth of today to become the impassioned, resilient leaders of tomorrow” is seen all throughout the work they do. For me, inspiration hit the first time I set foot in the center. At the first Teen Advisory Board meeting, the directors told us they would never say no. They were there to help guide us, but we determined the direction we wanted to take. 

This should be a lesson taught to everyone. Everyone has the power to make a difference and there will always be people willing to help you make it. By no means to say it will be easy. But when we are faced with obstacles, we control how we react. We can change our attitude, learn from it, grow from it, and try again. As a people, we have so much power, all we have to do is harness it and use it for the greater good.