For the first time in several months I had a moment of frustration. I’ve been on a really amazing run of peace in all my circumstances, joy and hope about my future, and excitement for the opportunities God has been providing for me. But this evening, an unfortunate consequence of a poor decision I made a few years ago seemed to be haunting me again, bringing fear back into my mind. I worried that if this situation wasn’t handled the way I thought it logically should, that I would have to bear the weight of this inconvenience for a while longer. That feeling of frustration started boiling within me and as it was coming to the surface I could almost feel a spring of hot tears burning behind my eyes.

I knew that if I let myself go down that spiral, it would ruin my Christmas Eve night with my family, and would put me in a mood that might even carry into tomorrow. Recognizing this, I went for a moment alone. I needed something positive to fill my mind with, that would replace these negative thoughts and redirect my perspective.

I turned to Matthew 5 and 6 where Jesus talks about dealing with anger and loving your enemies. While I don’t necessarily have enemies, the principle was valuable. In these chapters he talks about not even thinking of someone else as a fool, and not allowing anger to grow in your heart towards another person. It also says we shouldn’t repay anyone evil, if they do unkind or evil things to us.

These ways of dealing with conflict don’t come naturally. Evidently, they tend to go against our nature, as our first instinct is usually to put up our dukes and defend ourselves. But we never find peace dealing with conflict that way, and I want peace. So, I let those words of wisdom sink in and began to pray. I prayed that I would find peace in my circumstances, that God would help me deal with whatever the consequences would be, and guide me through it so that everything would be okay. And I also asked Him to shape my attitude to make me full of grace, forgiving, patient, and free, so that this situation wouldn’t frustrate me or make me anxious anymore.

It was like the weight immediately lifted off my chest.

Sometimes we are faced with challenging and frustrating situations that we cannot control. In these times, our mental and emotional peace can turn into uncertainty and pain. Although we may not be able to escape our consequences, we can always change the way we perceive them. Sometimes that means seeking wisdom, so we have a light to guide us back to positivity and peace. Prayer is a helpful tool that can help us to release those negative feelings, and get us to a state of serenity. To me, that’s incredible, because although nothing changed from the moment that got me frustrated until now, my perspective did.

Gratitober: Entry 23

23. I’m grateful for prayer.

Prayer is a powerful thing. Ancient cultures and belief systems have relied on prayer for multiple reasons. Some people use it as a form of meditation to clear their minds and release their negative thoughts; while others pray directly to God, thanking Him, praising Him, and making requests for help and provision in different areas of their lives. Whatever your fundamental beliefs about God, a Higher Power, or the “Universe” may be, prayer is an effective tool in helping us gain an understanding of situations we are facing, and helps us give them over to a Power that controls more than we ever could.

I’ve battled the need for control for a few years now, and this year I’ve finally grasped a stronger hold on what surrendering control really looks like. Fear is sometimes a stronger motivator than hope, and I used to internalize fear and worry about the future, allowing it to be the guiding factor for my decisions. I would take precautions, and have mental backup plans, and give ultimatums, and try to manipulate situations so the safest, most restrictive scenario would play out. But that’s a terrible way to live, and recognizing that anxiety was starting to control my life stopped me in my tracks. I had to step back, take a personal inventory, and see what toxic things I let into my life that gradually led me to this point.

It was really hard to overcome that desire to control. I basically had to surrender any frustrations I had about other people’s behaviours. I had to shrug it off and just let it be. I can’t even control my own future, how did I think I could control anyone else’s? I also had to create a healthier space–literally. I reorganized my room, put up positive quotes, articles, and bible passages on a part of my wall, and started journaling again. I bought candles and twinkly lights and cozy blankets and started to make my bedroom a metaphorically “safe space”, rather than a place where dark thoughts could creep in like they used to. And I had to pray.

Knowing I had zero control over anyone else and very little over my own future made me turn my focus off my internal battles and fear and focus on God. When I started to focus on Him, everything changed.

You know that feeling when you go deep into nature and just take in the massive views; knowing how small and insignificant you are? And when you get back to your routine life, you feel on top of the world because everything is in perspective again? That’s what prayer did for me. It helped me see how small my problems were in the grand scheme of all creation and time, and knowing that the Creator of it all was looking out for me, helped me embrace that strength and focus on it daily. Knowing that God would protect me and that no one else could harm my Spirit/the core of who I am, helped me let go of the reins and let things be. Prayer also helped me figure out what to do with my life, now that spending time worrying wasn’t on my to-do list anymore. It helped me focus on how I could be content with my life and change what I could. It made me realize I had to serve.

I decided I would make it my mission to speak light into everyone around me. If I walked past a stranger and thought they had a nice smile, I would tell them. If an old friend crossed my mind, I would reach out to them. I would take every opportunity I could to focus on making someone else’s day brighter, instead of dwelling on the disappointments in my own life. I also decided to invite the teen girls from my Church over to my house once a month so we could build relationships, support, and guide each other. That alone has been a huge blessing to me this year. Sometimes I feel like I get more out of it than they do! I love my girls! 🙂

Another great thing about prayer is that other people can send them for you too. Countless people whom I’ve shared things with have been praying for me for years. That’s huge… and it almost brings me to tears. Knowing I have spiritual support every day, even during times when I feel weak and broken, still gives me a sense of strength knowing that God’s got the world in His hands, and everything is going to work out as it should.