Anyone who has been in a position of authority—parent, manager, pastor—can relate to Saint Peter in this 17th Century painting from the School of Rubens.  The Fisherman, grasping firmly but gently the keys given to him by Christ, looks upward to God.  He is not 'white-knuckling' the keys, nor is he loosely holding them, about to let them slip out of his hands.   They are part of his identity. 

Peter's countenance entails anguish and pain.  But there is also hope and trust in his eyes.  He desires relief; relief not for himself, but for his flock.  He knows this relief will come, even if it is on the other side of eternity.

Peter's suffering as chief shepherd was an entry point for his union with God.  He sits with God in the pain.  He does not ignore his feeling and allow a silent resentment and distancing from God to creep into his soul.  He claims his hurt and relates it to the Lord.

There is an acronym in prayer called "ARRR." It stands for Acknowledge, Relate, Receive, Respond.  It is a very simple method of prayer.  We acknowledge the thoughts, feelings, and desires of our heart, we relate that to God, we receive from him some grace, and we respond, finally, to that whole experience.  This is the dynamic of any healthy relationship, be it in marriage or the spiritual life.  We are attuned to how we are feeling and we hand that over to the person n our life.

Whether or not you are an official authority figure, you have authority over your soul.  You will undoubtedly experience some challenge and it will behoove you to meditate on that as our beloved fisherman did.


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