One of the most quoted and cherished prayers over the centuries has been the peace Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi. The words challenge us to change our mindset to look beyond ourselves and adopt a humble and giving stance as we serve others.
What if you and I held this wonderful prayer up to ourselves, as we would a camera for a "selfie," to look inward and explore how we are treating ourselves? After all, isn't it harder to serve others when we are not at peace with ourselves, especially in our relationship with God.
Let's explore this idea, line by line.
Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
How often do you make peace with yourself?
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
How often do you hate yourself?
Where there is injury, pardon;
In how many ways have you injured yourself?
Where there is doubt, faith;
In what ways have you doubted yourself?
Where there is despair, hope;
How often have you found yourself despairing?
Where there is darkness, light;
Describe times when you can't see a way forward.
Where there is sadness, joy.
Are you sometimes so sad you can't even smile for a selfie?
O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
Recall when you needed to be consoled.
To be understood as to understand,
Recall when you needed to be understood.
To be loved as to love.
Recall a time when you just needed to be loved.
Francis of Assisi knew so well that there is more to one's outward reach to serve God and others in Christian love and surrender. He knew the ultimate benefit of reaching out in a way that requires one to reach inside in the process. As he notes, "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."