The tried and true ways aren’t up to the latest challenge.
My usual spiritual practices being Sunday morning worship, daily prayer in the ACTS form, and daily Scripture reading.
My current shortcoming being my reactions to a co-worker.
Every day, I seek the grace to stay patient with her. Even so, fours days out of five I become impatient and can hear my annoyance in the tone of my voice. This is not who I want to be.
Mark 13 keeps me searching for a solution to my dilemma. In this chapter, Jesus instructs his disciples on the proper way to behave while they wait for his Second Coming. They are to be αγρυπνείτε and γρηγορείτε. I want to figure out how to be these things at work.
To be αγρυπνείτε is to not be something else. Do not be sleepy. Do not be drowsy. The word Hypnosis has the same verb root. I’ve found this similarity helpful because it has me asking question such as -- What is hypnotizing me at work? What suggestion is overcoming my will and persuading me to act contrary to my values?
I’ve come to the conclusion that my analysis of the situation is the problem. I pick apart past encounters, trying to identify what it is about this person that brings out the worst in me. I theologize about the role this person is playing in my spiritual development.
Understanding has not brought about insight. All it’s done is given me false confidence that I can stay patient next time. When next time happens; however, I’m as frustrated and annoyed as ever. Praying over my analytical conclusions and plans of action is not the solution.
To be γρηγορείτε is to be the opposite of αγρυπνείτε. Be watchful. Be vigilant. The verb is the perfect tense of ἐγείρω, “I rise,” and it shares the same root with the term Resurrection. What will raise me up at work? How do I stay connected to Resurrection-power on the job?
The early Methodists would “fly to Jesus” whenever they faced a temptation that overwhelmed their willpower. I hope a similar practice will raise me above my instinctive reactions. Wesley’s method was to offer a one line prayer. My plan is to offer a quick confession and supplication, “I’m losing it. Help!”
Anne Lamott calls these “beggy prayers.” That sounds like what I’ve been reduced to -- a beggar seeking grace.