Put in the Work

August 17, 2010

One of my favorite lines from both the book and the movie Eat, Pray, Love is when Richard (a recovering alcoholic from Texas) tells the author, Elizabeth Gilbert (who he affectionaly calls Groceries because of how she eats) that the only way to achieve inner peace is to, “Put in the work, Groceries!”  In the scene in an ashram in India where Richard delivers this line, Elizabeth is complaining about how she wants her life to change and how she seeks inner peace, but it is just not happening.  The work Richard is referring to is taking the time to meditate, taking the time to forgive herself, and taking the time to allow herself to be changed.

This line resonates with me so strongly because there is so much truth to it.  If we want peace, forgiveness, or change, we have to work at it.  For me speaking from my Catholic Tradition, that means first and foremost, taking the time to go to God and spend time with God so that the Holy Spirit can work on our hearts and transform them.  Taking the time to “put in the work” with God– despite the restlessness we may feel, despite the lack of relationship that we might feel we have with God, despite the unanswered questions we have –changes us.

When we “put in the work”, we slowly find ourselves with the courage to make the changes we desire, with the ability to forgive those who have hurt us, and with the joy of living with a sense of peace.  For this to happen, we have to simply show up and hang out with God for bit!

Do I need to show up a bit in my relationship with God?
Do I need to spend some time in prayer so that God can gently transform my heart?
What does “put in the work” mean to me right now?

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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