Our Quo Vadis group began a new book, “Hallelujah Anyway” by Anne Lamott. The subtitle to this book is Rediscovering Mercy. It seems during these days mercy is almost seem by some as a weakness. Is it? Showing mercy has not and will never be a weakness. Over and over again we have read scripture, but also seen or read stories in our media about people who have shown mercy in some form or fashion.
The Prodigal Son, the Good Samaritan, the friends who tore through a roof to get their friend to Jesus to be healed and so on. Why is it that we sometimes view individuals such as our presidents or individuals who have admitted their mistakes or their faults or who have reached to others to help are labeled as weak. Some former presidents have not been viewed as strong because they made mistakes or didn’t act in a way that was thought to be a stronger stance. Yes, in showing mercy we open ourselves to ridicule to those who second guess our decisions. Tough love is a part of mercy. Mercy doesn’t mean there is no structure or plan. When the Samaritan took care of the man who had been robbed…he not only did some of the work himself, but left the man at an inn and some money for the innkeeper to care for the man. The Samaritan also said he would return to pay more when he came back by. That’s planning, that’s action.
We too often see being merciful as being soft. I say it’s actually tougher to be merciful than not. Our natural reaction to seeing wrongs is to punish or at the least to not have anything to do with that person. We wall them off and steer clear of them. Mercy is another form of compassion, but it’s also a way of viewing ourselves. The log in our own eye and the twig in someone else’s is the analogy we need to remember. We show mercy because we ourselves need mercy. Yes, it’s a selfish reason I admit, but it’s ok. What we see as being wrong in someone else’s life is but a small amount of what could be in our own. I’m not saying we don’t hold people accountable of course…far from it. Mercy doesn’t allow us to do what we want without consequences because everyone probably has done something worse. What it does do is hold each of us accountable to our own mistakes and flub-ups. Mercy causes us to pause before we respond because it reminds us of our own humanity. We use our own experiences to say, “hey…I did that and I was sorry I did or said it, but I learned from it and so can you.” We beat each other up over the small stuff and seem to let go some things of more importance such as dignity, respect, character, honesty, integrity. People nowadays use words to rip each other up and we seem determined to not show mercy because that shows understanding of where the other person is coming from. Again, weakness inks it’s way out because we feel like if we understand someone else, we excuse them. On the contrary, we hold them up for scrutiny…their language or actions have put them in the spotlight, not us.
Yes, we all want mercy, but do we give it? Mercy isn’t weakness, it’s a sign of strength declaring…I know what you did or said, but I am allowing you to make that mistake at my expense, but don’t do it again. Treating others as we want to be treated isn’t easy as long as we remember our own short-comings.
Go and do likewise… Thanks for reading.