I Don’t Do Well Without Mercy

The longer I live, the more obvious it becomes to me that I am in vital need of mercy. I don’t do well without it. In fact, I get downright perturbed if I find out I am being judged wrongly by someone. I don’t like it when people assume the worst about me without gaining all the facts first.

You see, being a Christian for many years, (40+) I have had many opportunities to take what is called a “Spiritual Gifts Test”. This is a test designed to evaluate what spiritual gift a follower of Christ has been given (by the Holy Spirit after conversion) which is to be used for the edification and building up of the church body. These gifts are listed as: Leadership; Teaching; Prophecy; Service; Giving; Encouragement; and Mercy. (Romans 12:6-8). I usually test high in the gift of “mercy”. This means that I find it easy to identify others who are in need of mercy and easy to extend mercy to those who need it. Maybe that’s why I have a hard time when it seems others don’t extend mercy to me. However, one of my favorite memories of mercy being extended to me (besides the obvious examples of God and my husband) was the example given to me by my kids.

When my kids were little and riding with me in the car on some errand, exploring a new area for the first time, I would miss a turn and get lost occasionally. Okay, it would happen quite often, but who’s counting, right? (Please realize, this was before the age of dashboard GPS units, let alone those handy little apps inside everyone’s smartphones.) I didn’t totally panic when this happened – much. I would just find a place to turn around and begin to retrace my steps, looking for the spot where I made the wrong turn. Alright, I admit my heart would be racing, but I purposely tried to keep my demeanor calm and pleasant, hoping the panic wouldn’t poke through and alarm the back seat passengers. My kids, noticing the sudden stop and change of direction, would brilliantly comment from their booster seats in the back, “Wrong way, Mommy?” “Yes.” I would reply. “But Mommy knows what she did wrong and we’ll be back on the right track in just a minute.” Satisfied with my answer, they would go back to whatever they were doing before our sudden change of direction, happy and content that Mommy would eventually find her way. And I’m happy to say that through the grace of God – and a lot of prayer – I always did.

I think there is a good lesson to be learned here. Even with the best intentions, we can take some wrong turns in life, or totally miss a turn we are supposed to take. Do we just keep on going down that wrong road hoping that we’ll eventually find our way? Or do we stop, turn around, go back to the point where we miscalculated, and try it again, choosing a different direction this time? I think the answer is rather obvious.

I am so grateful for the example of my kids in that back seat as they watched me turn around and redirect that car so many times. They didn’t yell at me or throw their hands up in exasperation or whisper spitefully behind my back. (I know this, I would have heard them.) Instead, they acknowledged the fact that a change needed to be made, gently asked what was going on, then trusted that I was going to find my way, and eventually take all of us safely to our final destination. They chose to think the best of me. So cool. And even though “mercy” is what I’m supposedly gifted with, I KNOW I don’t always choose to extend it to others like I should. So my prayer is this, “Lord, thank you for the mercy you extend to me, and please help me to extend that same kind of mercy and understanding to others.”

I’m not exactly sure why I’ve decided to start this blog. I just know I like to write. Writing things down helps me sort things out and it definitely helps me remember things better. (The memory is the first thing to go, they say.) I guess I just want to jot down some life lessons and hopefully pass on some wisdom to my now grown up kiddos. Oh – and my kids? They are both pretty amazing, by the way, and have turned into wonderful drivers themselves. I rarely hear of them getting lost. But, of course – you know it – they both have GPS units in their cars.