Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love.
Where there is injury, pardon.
Where there is doubt, faith.
Where there is despair, hope.
Where there is darkness, light.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Oh Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console,
To be understood, as to understand,
To be loved, as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Every morning during the week, we say this prayer together. I’ve always liked it, but saying it every morning has made me stop and think more seriously about what it means to pray that prayer and for God to answer it. I don’t know what it means to be an instrument of peace. So what I’ve started to do is ask God to help me be each of those things. At work especially, I ask God at the beginning of the day to help me sow love, pardon, and light in my work among people who are often selfish and mean with one another. At work this takes the form of servanthood. I try to go out of my way to help my fellow waiters bus their tables and run the food for them, and I think it really does help. I’m no saint, but God has guided me by showing me what it can begin to look like at work to be an instrument of peace.
But then the “rubber met the road,” so to speak. I tell the following story not because I did anything grand, but because even as it was happening, I was totally floored at the way God’s action was in all of it, and that I did very little except say “yes” when give the opportunity.
Earlier in the week, a co-worker asked if he could have my Friday lunch shift. I said “sure,” thinking that it was a way to serve him, and also a way to get a day off. Later on I realized that I’d been asked to babysit that day by my brother, so I was glad to maybe get to do that. Turns out that they’d hired a sitter already cause they hadn’t known if I’d get off. So with my day off, I went to Bank of America to deposit some money. In line at the bank, I saw an older man, probably in his seventies, standing at the front yelling his head off at the tellers. They couldn’t give him any money because his account was no longer in his name. Apparently his son had taken over the account, so the man couldn’t do anything. He obviously didn’t quite understand why, and was furious and started cursing out his son (“That sorry son of a bitch!) and threatening to bring in the police. The tellers obviously didn’t really know what to do except to keep telling him, “There’s nothing we can do.” Eventually he left (though not without coming back in once to reiterate his point that his son was a terrible person), and I honestly thought that was the end of it, and I felt like maybe his son really was not a great guy and that this kind of confused old man got screwed over. In my head I was worried that maybe he needed some money, and I thought, “Should I offer him some?” but didn’t go right up to him
Then I left, and as I was walking to my car, I saw him walking away, back towards the mall and towards traffic. I got in the car and was just attacked by feelings of guilt and pity, and wanting to ask if he needed help but also not wanting to make him madder, and honestly just wanting to not get involved. As I started to walk away (I know it was God doing this), I started to say the prayer of St. Francis, but this time it came in the form of a command, and it was directed at me. Where there is hatred, sow love, BRIAN, where there is injury, pardon,BRIAN. Even though I was saying the words, I knew that God was speaking to me and giving me the opportunity to learn how to pray. This is what it means to pray this prayer, Brian. Don’t pray it if you don’t want to do it.
So I did. I pulled over and walked up to the man. I asked him if he needed some help, or a ride somewhere. And he said, “Yes, I could use a ride.” So he got in the car, and he had been planning to walk (with a cane) about 2 miles back to his house, and I started to take him home, but then he asked me to take him to a car dealer to get keys made for his car, so (though not certain he knew exactly what he was doing) I took him. He repeated many times, “I surely do appreciate you helping me,” and then would burst into tears and say that he had felt like the whole world was against him. This happened a couple times on the way.
To make a longer story short, we tried to get keys made, but a family member had called the key place earlier that week and told them not to make keys for this man. I felt so bad for him, because by this point I became more convinced that he had some sort of senility or Alzheimers, so I asked the key people not to tell him that a family member had done this and to just tell him the computers were down or something. He was kind of skepical of this explanation, but I think the outcome was better than if he had been told the whole truth. So I took him home and we parted ways with him asking me to take him to get the keys made on Monday.
To recap why I’m convinced that God was active in all of this: 1) I was scheduled to work Friday and a random co-worker who ALWAYS works Fridays was off and needed to work. 2) Mark and Libby didn’t need me to babysit, even though they’d asked me to originally, so I had the day off. 3) I drove my car, which I don’t usually do for such a short distance.
Two other times in the last month, I’ve driven to work (which I almost never do) and had co-workers ask me for rides home that day.
As I pray this prayer every day, I’m getting chances to both see and step into what it means to be an instrument of peace.