Leaning into mercy

It is a lovely quiet kind of day.
Outside the light is subdued, and wet leaves cling to the sidewalk.
I want nothing more than to curl up on the couch with a latte and just close my eyes and read a good book…


(Photo credit to my brother Isaac, shot with his iPhone)

But really, this morning has been a salty one.
Not in a bad way, but in the stretching kind of way,
where you feel pulled into places you don’t want to go.
Where ugly attitudes start curling out of your heart and want to strangle out every little joy.
This particular situation is not a new one to me. But it is still a hard one.
Daniel, my ever-present counselor wisely said, “Just give like you are giving to Jesus.”

‘Cause in essence, that what we are each doing. Every day.

Then I stumbled across this article and there I lay, with Kara’s finger directly on this raw subject.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect. I wanted to squirm away. Play dodgeball.
I didn’t want to look in the mirror and see it quite that plain.
Sometimes, it just hurts to be honest.

We all know that “…whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water
because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.”
We’ve heard it in Sunday school. We’ve heard it from our mothers. We teach it to our children.

I feed my daughter because she is mine, and it is the right thing to do.
I am her mother, and I know that all the late nights feedings aren’t meaningless.
She slides her soft hand over my face and looks up at me with those deep, rich eyes.
She can’t even say “thank you” yet, but already she is giving back to me. Loving me. So, it’s easy.
I know she is committed to me, and will smile at me, and reach for me to hold her.
She makes me feel good.
So of course I’ll keep giving. ‘Cause she gives right back.

But what about these moments when someone thoughtlessly takes, and takes, and takes?
What about when they assume that you will always help them, even if you did it last week, month, year?
You knew it would be just like last time,
when it left that sour taste in your mouth and your heart feeling tired. Used. Unappreciated.
When they expect you to give and offer nothing in return. Again.

It’s salty, and not salted carmel salty. It’s just the course salt that leaves your teeth gritted.

I’ll be ugly blunt. I want justification. I want to be treated fairly.
I want her to pause and think about how it really makes me feel.
I’m tired of getting the predictable short end of the stick.
Every time.

But a quiet whisper says, “Justification. Is that really what you want?
To be treated and judged the way you do others?
In all honesty, you want justice?”

Now the salt pours around me, no longer just between my teeth but enveloping me wholly.
When the tinted glass of my perception fades and I stand bare and plain before God,
will “justice” be my cry? Far from it. What I really need is {MERCY}.
And lots of it.

God took that layer of my heart and peeled back one more than I expected.
“What about your motives?”
Relationships all around me, with strings weaving back and forth, touching here and there.
My husband, my children, sisters, mother, friends. Am I in it all for what I can get out of it?

Jesus came to give. He had no rights. Not even the same place to lay his head each night.
He came and gave, knowing the end of the chapter.
He knew this disciple so loyal today would tomorrow swear he didn’t know Him.
He willingly gave bread to the one who would value silver more than His life,
and turn Him into the hands of those so eager to murder Him.
Jesus saw the poor widow give her two tiny mites and loved her for her lavishness,
yet laid the judging religious ones bare and exposed for their covetousness.
Jesus operated on a completely different plane than what “makes sense” to my carnal mind.

I am humbled.
I read, “For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace.
For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”
(John 1:16-17)

I have to remember that I am the one in debt.
I am the one that wronged. That sinned. That received what I didn’t deserve.

The salt stings my eyes now, and I cling to mercy.
Mercy that washes me clean, and gives me hope.
Mercy that is new every morning.

I lean on this, and not justice.
It is safer here.


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