mer·cy, n, \mr-s\, plural mercies
Etymology: Middle English merci, mercy “mercy,” from early French merci, mercit (same meaning), from Latin merces “price paid for something, wages, reward”
1 a : kind and gentle treatment of someone (as a wrongdoer or opponent) having no right to it b : a disposition to show mercy
2 a : a blessing as an act of divine love <the mercies of God> b : a fortunate happening <it’s a mercy the weather cooled off>
3 : kindness shown to victims of misfortune <works of mercy among the poor>
– at the mercy of : wholly in the power of : with no way to protect oneself against <was at the mercy of the weather>
When I started in ministry the only reason I thought it might be a path for me was because I was a sinner. I was pretty much an above average sinner…ahh youth! It was really one of my gifts…and we’re talking the big ten here. One of the great lessons of being a sinner is that mercy is possible. So when I went into ministry, it wasn’t really to evangelize kids or to show them the “right” way to live. I’ve never been a holier than thou type. I wanted to share that mercy was possible and that forgiveness was possible…even forgiving yourself. A sinner knows mercy. I knew mercy and the fact that mercy was possible for me…well, I knew that anyone could have it or bestow it freely. I wanted kids to know that even the biggest f#@* up…me…knew mercy…so it was there for them.
Mercy is a gift to give and to receive. Compassion felt from another or for myself isn’t always easy, especially when hurt is involved. Mercy can be constant but feel fleeting. I always know it’s there for me, but sometimes I just can’t reach it, feel it. When I began my journey as a widow, I would beg for mercy everyday…mercy to be set free from my pain, from a fate that must have been a mistake, from, well, from life in general.
Every morning when I woke I surrendered myself. I begged for the time when I could say that “this too has passed”. I don’t beg anymore…but many days, I still surrender and ask for mercy and grace to see me through another day. These days come more often when I am stressed or experience new growth and change.
For me, mercy is one of those forms of love that I can share everyday. Everyone makes mistakes. When my kids are mean and nasty to each other, mercy teaches them love and compassion. When I let them down, mercy teaches me love, compassion and humility. When disappointment comes my way, on my own or from another, mercy can heal wounds. When I let myself down, mercy helps me get up another day.
Kindness and mercy have been extended to me on many occasions and more than I could even imagine since I was widowed. People I know, people I don’t know, people I hope to know better have all graced me with mercy. It has seen me through some of my darkest, most hopeless times and I know with great certainty that it will again. It will connect me with others when I feel isolated and alone. It will give me strength when I feel hopeless and on my last leg. It will follow me…’til my final breath…and that makes the struggle, the work, the heartache all worth it.