Poker and Prayers for Difficult people

ace playing cards on brown textile
Photo by Oleg Magni on




Kenny Rogers and Reinhold Niebuhr have something in common, easy to remember, good advice.

“You’ve got to know when…… to walk away” says Kenny

You may not have heard of Niebuhr.  He is credited with writing the often quoted “Serenity Prayer.”

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.


Sometimes I need to hold my cards close; until the urge to respond badly passes.  It is interesting that Kenny never says confront.  And even though Niebuhr talks about change he does not delve into the how-to of that petition.

Often our biggest challenges in life involve other people:  relationships.  The best way to have a peaceful relationship is to realize sometimes it is me who needs to change.  As the famous hymn says “it’s me, yes it’s me oh, Lord, standing in the need of prayer.”

I wonder 2 things when I encounter confrontational people:

  1.  What happened to them when they were young?
  2.  Who else are they treating this way?

If it’s someone I just met I may also think:  “Maybe they are just having a bad day.”

If that’s the case I give them extra grace and try to forget the unpleasant encounter.

But if the behavior continues then what to do? Time to make choices, analyze and prepare.

Analyzing, means becoming aware of the why:

Getting back to…

Number 1.:

  • Traumatized children can become controlling micromanaging adults.
  • Fearful people often use anger as a tool.

Number 2.

  • Is this a pattern?
  • Are they stomping on people other places and need to be addressed by someone?

Preparing, means knowing how I plan to respond in the future.

  • “A soft answer turns away wrath.”  Good advice from the Good Book.
  • Count to 10, maybe more and wait a day or more before any response at all.
  • Keep it just between you and the other person if possible.  I fail at this when someone really upsets me.  My husband is a much better judge of character than I.  He can tell right away if a person will be challenging.  So he is more prepared with how to respond.  He is great at simply ignoring someone who tries to push his buttons. I am a slow learner. I sometimes need to share the situation and verbalize the conversation to see if I understood, or could have done something differently.  Eventually I work my way through Kenny’s song and Reinhold’s prayer.

Struggling?  I recommend doing something to take your mind off the situation:  Gardening, shopping, a good novel or special hobby until the storm inside passes.


crop field under rainbow and cloudy skies at dayime
Photo by James Wheeler on

May you have a peaceful day.

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