O'Connor knew that she could be self-centered about her life and work. In this entry, you can gather from her discouragement and reflection on the imperfection of her contrition, that she knew that she was approaching her relationship with God, as we often do, in a utilitarian fashion. Not that it was wrong for her to seek His grace in her work, but one senses that she knew all too well that her identity was wrapped up in her work as a writer and what she could or could not produce. She seemed to implicitly understand the connection between grace and the Cross, and was honest about her fear of it. Like, O'Connor, when faced with the disappointments of life and the shallowness they often expose in us, we must still reach out to God albeit only half-heartedly.
“Dear God, I am so discouraged about my work. I have the feeling of discouragement that is. I realize I don’t know what I realize. Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted. That is so far from what I deserve, of course, that I am naturally struck with the nerve of it. Contrition in me is largely imperfect. I don’t know if I’ve ever been sorry for a sin because it hurt You. That kind of contrition is better than none but it is selfish. To have the other kind, it is necessary to have knowledge, faith extraordinary. All boils down to grace, I suppose. Again asking God to help us be sorry for having hurt Him. I am afraid of pain and I suppose that is what we have to have to get grace. Give me the courage to stand the pain to get the grace, Oh Lord. Help me with this life that seems so treacherous, so disappointing.”
Excerpt From: Flannery O’Connor. “A Prayer Journal.”