I have been so irritable lately. Things that normally would just flow over me seem to hover like a foreboding dark cloud. I wanted to be alone in my room to lament the myriad of offenses that were plaguing me. I was hiding, but I was also lonely, wishing someone would see through my façade of pleasantries. I was hoping for someone who would listen while I bared my pent-up soul.
Eventually, things came to a head, and I blew up at an innocent person. It wasn’t my two-year-old granddaughter. I always have lots of patience with her. It also wasn’t the unhappy, angry person who had offended me. Unfortunately, someone who had good intentions received my undeserved criticism when they asked about what was bothering me.

Later I took a prayer walk and then went to bed, asking the Lord to forgive me and help me through this hard time. The next morning, as I read some devotionals, the first lines spoke to my heart and touched me in a way that changed me.

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.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not 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; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.—Attributed to Saint Francis of Assisi

Those beautiful words comforted my troubled heart and healed me, and challenged me to do better, to be better, to
take those offenses and turn them into compassion for all those who were feeling how I felt and struggling through hard days. I had felt judgmental toward a person who had criticized me when I was trying to be helpful. But then I clearly saw how much I needed pardon for hurting someone who had been trying to help me.

That day I was still cordial, but it came from a heart that had been set right. I still used pleasantries, but they were genuine. Most of all, I felt the deep peace of knowing that the Lord would help me through even the hardest days as I prayed that simple prayer.