I usually stop listening when I hear the name of God. It’s an instantaneous physical reaction, like kicking out when a doctor taps your knee with a reflex hammer or closing your eyes during a gruesome scene in Grey’s. I have conditioned myself to a life without faith. Maybe because I felt I didn’t need it anymore, maybe because I didn’t agree with worn out stories and rules and their implications on good people, maybe because I believed, like I always have, that I could take care of myself.
What I’ve found lately though, is that without some type of prayer, without someone else to look up to, I keep falling short. I am a person who is consumed with jealousy, filled with fear and doubt, fueled by anger of wrongs I cannot seem to right, envious of those who are winning in the arenas of life that I am losing in. And at my very, very worst — I am hateful. Rageful and vindictive. My words are like venom spewed out against the friends and family that I love.
Without faith in my life, I am hopeless. I am nothing but a walking, breathing, talking version of all the worst parts of our humanity. I am less than human.
Mother Teresa prayed this prayer (commonly known as the prayer of St. Francis of Assisi) at the beginning of her acceptance speech for winning the Nobel Prize. I heard it while watching a movie documenting her life and works, and it struck me hard in its simplicity. It’s counteraction of everything I feel that I have become (doubtful, hateful, and despairing). The first few lines:
Lord, Make me a channel of Thy Peace.
Why is that so hard to be? Peaceful. When I am caught up in myself and envy and anger and fear — of course, it is impossible to be at peace. And sometimes even harder to be that channel of peace to the people around you. When fear takes over, I wear my anger like armor. The world is no match for the walls that I can build and the ammo that my words can fire.
What would I give to be an instrument of Peace? Mother Teresa sacrificed comfortability, and a relationship, and fame, and fortune, and even her good name all in the pursuit of bringing light to the people who were most deeply in the dark. She restored faith to those who had all but lost it.
Where must I go, what must I do, who must I love, to find that faith again?
Lord, grant that I may seek rather to comfort than to be comforted. To understand than to be understood. To love than to be loved; For it is by forgetting self that one finds; it is by forgiving that one is forgiven;
It is by dying that one awakens to eternal life.