Dorothy and the Lion

Over the past week, I have been thinking about the Serenity Prayer and its connection to the Wizard of Oz. Some of you might be looking at your phone or computer and wondering if I have lost my mind again. I beg for your patience and to hear me out. This message was inspired by a share I heard at a 12-step meeting. The person who said it gave me permission to use it. So off we go.

God grant me the serenity

We all know the SerenityPrayer. “May God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things that I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” And almost everyone knows the story of the Wizard of Oz or at least the movie version of the story. Dorothy is not happy with life on the farm, runs away, is swept up in a tornado, lands in a strange land, and gathers three companions on her journey to the Emerald City to meet the Wizard. On the way, she must deal with witches – good and bad – flying monkeys, and castle guards before she finds she always had the power to grant her wish of returning home.

We have always had the power to return home.

the wizard of oz book cover

So, what does this story have to do with the Serenity Prayer, let alone recovery? In our active addictions we cannot find fulfillment, happiness, or peace in our lives. We run away and just when we realize that we have run too far we are swept up in the tornado/drug of our choice. Its path of destruction destroys the landscape of our lives and carries us far away. Thankfully, when the storm passes, we land in a new brightly colored world filled with sober people singing about the blessings of recovery. Yet our own work is just beginning.

We cannot walk the path alone.

There is a road we must follow with steps leading to the Emerald City of sobriety. We also learn that we cannot walk the path alone. There are still temptations, flying monkeys, people, places, and things calling us back to the darkness. However, as we follow the path, we first find the companion of serenity – the heart to love ourselves and others. A new heart also gives us the gift of forgiveness and acceptance. The second companion is the courage to move forwards even when encountering lions, tigers, and bears. It is courage which lets us turn over our lives, let go of character defects, and make amends. It is also courage that lets us pick up the phone or go to a meeting.

Who are Your Companions on the Road to Recovery?


(An earlier version of this story was first read on the SLAA inspiration line by the author)

Steve Devlin, PhD

Steve Devlin, PhD, EdM, CRS began his career as a counselor in the early 1980s before pursuing a research career in higher education. During the early 1990s, he directed a gerontology center at the University of Pennsylvania and was a Fellow at the Institute on Aging. He has been a life coach since 2009, two years after entering recovery. The focus of his coaching is finding hope and meaning to life, and is heavily influenced by the work of Victor Frankl. His interests also include quality of life for disenfranchised people, especially those facing challenges due to middle- and older-aging, health crises, and incarceration. Steve has an undergraduate degree from Dickinson College (B.A., Psychology, 1980), a Master’s degree from Boston University (EdM, Counseling Psychology, 1981), and a Doctorate from Temple University (PhD, Educational Psychology, 1991). He earned his Certified Recovery Coach (CRS) certification in 2013 and has a practice in the southeastern Pennsylvania and New Jersey region. Steve is a consultant with the Center for Outcome Analysis (Havertown PA) and serves on a regional board advocating for those with sexual addictions.


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