I was just on Twitter and saw @TheUrbanAbbey saying morning prayer, which included part of the Prayer of St. Francis:
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;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O 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.
I remember being at a retreat years ago. A couple attended, with the wife staying all weekend and her husband stopping by for Mass on Sunday, since he had to watch their small children. The wife had a recent disability and they were struggling with some of the adjustments. There were frequent arguments and outbursts, after which they would both have many regrets. Things were said that couldn't be taken back and, worse yet, the children were hearing all of this.
At the time I was dating someone who had a disability who also became ill. We said this prayer together whenever we had to face difficult decisions or issues. So when I spoke to the couple, I suggested this prayer to them, because I found it so helpful in keeping a perspective in relationships.
The first part of the prayer is a good reminder that there are opportunities every day, no matter how small, to sow peace, love, pardon, faith, hope, light and joy. All of us without exception can do it with our loved ones, our friends, family and each person we encounter and receive the peace and blessing that giving provides.
It is at the toughest moments when the second part of this prayer is most useful to me. It's far too easy in the midst of a difficult time to forget to ask God for help in what I seek. It is also easy to forget that we can still practice the first part of the prayer even in tough times. In fact, it is at those times when it seems to me that God gives me the most opportunities to do so!
This prayer is a wonderful reminder to seek God's will and make my decisions accordingly. God's grace is all around us all through our day. We are never alone with our problems or difficulties and when someone we love hurts, we can help them best by keeping our own spiritual life intact. Taking the time to find a spiritual perspective is crucial in those situations.
This prayer can be a wonderful way to remind ourselves that what we see as overwhelming may indeed be an opportunity to deepen our relationship with God and others.