Today I finished reading a novel by Wallace Stegner, Angle of Repose. No doubt it was a Pulitzer Prize Winner, and I was sorry it ended. Yet the penultimate line was on the last page, “Wisdom….is knowing what you have to accept”. This reminds me of the Serenity Prayer.
The angle of repose that Stegner referred to is the angle at which two lines (or lives) hold each other up, “the leaning together of the vertical which produces the false arch” (p556). That may be more than we can hope for, or even realise while we are living in a difficult relationship. However when we are comfortable in our own skin, when we have self-acceptance and self-compassion, we can be kind toward and respectful of self and the other.
Another question that Stegner poses toward the end of this novel, as he is summing up his grandmother’s life is, “Do we need to be happy or unhappy?” This is an excellent question to ask ourself of our primary relationship. Ultimately, I believe we need to make ourself happy, and even deeper than that to come to peace with ourself. In this way we can find acceptance of the life that God has granted us; and realise that God believes in us and wants the best for us, despite us at times struggling against that and our own will.