“God’s mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (Ez 37:1-14). … Let us be renewed by God’s mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.” Pope Francis
“Don’t scrutinize people with a microscope; view them from a comfortable distance. And allow some room for compassion in the space the lies between you.” Douglas Pagels
“Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:16
So mercy is not always my gift. I am a huge believer in consequences for your actions, and especially the natural consequences that arise when we make certain choices. Those who know me well know that in reality I am not the friend to call if you want help burying the body. I’ll have you at the police department in no time, telling the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. Oh, I will stand next to you throughout, sometimes prompting you to tell pertinent details, and I will fight for justice for you and make sure you are treated fairly, but I don’t think much is gained in life with failing to come clean and face things head on. (Which is in some ways a pity since I have watched enough hours of crime shows that I think I may be an excellent body burying accomplice. And we North Iredell girls have both brains and skills and are well prepared to deal with whatever comes our way, especially working in tandem. Thankfully for the world, most of us have chosen to use these skills for good and not for evil.)
In this world of social media, your mistakes (or even your perceived mistakes) can be broadcast in seconds. I think this can be both good and bad at times. I haven’t decided on which side I think the scales tip. It’s a reality, though, and one we have to deal with. It has long range implications, many breaking innocent hearts. That is what is often forgotten.
What amazes me, however, is the flippant glee with which many people seem to revel in the mistakes of others. How easy social media makes it to spread gossip and how quickly people jump into doing just that. The acceptance that every story is the full story. That every story is based on truth. That every situation is black and white. The unkind comments and public opinions that come forth with most, quite often from those who are gleeful in seeing the pain of others. Regardless of the things that they and theirs have done in their lives, or without a thought of “There but for the grace of God go I.”.
But this is not a post to condemn those folks, but instead to love on those whose compassion and mercy define them. You may not notice them as much on social media, because they are not as sensational and showy. They tend to use social media to quietly build folks up and not tear them down, and not to piously uplift themselves up and make everything a circus. These folks, however, are not passive and actually are quite active in their intent. You can watch them and learn so much about how to treat people well.
For some, their first instinct is to pray. I love these people. The prayer warriors of the world. They pray for all involved. For those who are accused, for families who are devastated, for law enforcement and judges and lawyers and juries and others who need to untangle very complicated situations and come up with decisions that are best for our community. These are the folks who pray for God to use the whole situation for good, to heal when things can be healed, to make things new. To bring hope. While most of these folks aren’t street corner prayers (the type God is not fond of), they are knocking persistently on the doors of heaven. Not just for those they know, but for every situation they run across where they think there may be pain or difficulty. They watch the world to see God at work….then join in with prayers and eyes that see. They work with God, not against. They are undercover world changers.
Others look to be the hands and feet of God. To find ways where they can lend a hand, where they can practically help. They care for people in both small and big ways. They think through what they would find helpful if they were in that situation, and quietly do it. They consider what may soothe the hearts of those involved. They use their lives to practically spread love around wherever they go. I see them as glitter fairies (yep, even you guys)….they add sparkle and joy to the world.
Then there are the encouragers. With all of the difficult life situations we have going on around us, we certainly need these folks. Friendly faces, a touch of a hand, a hug extended at just the right time. Most of all, people who don’t condemn, don’t judge, don’t blame everyone for the actions of one, who will jump into the ring if needed but who stay out of things that aren’t their concern….and are bold enough to ask others to do the same. They are fierce in their own way…with a gentle touch.
I try to do a check on myself periodically, to see if I am living my life with the values I say I believe in. Sometimes I fall short. Sometimes I find myself not only lacking…. but cynical, heartless, and hopeless. The only positive thing about finding myself in this place is that I will fight any obstacle to get out. It is an unpleasant place to be. Sometimes I find myself with a stone in my hand, ready to pelt someone who is already down, ready to join the taunts of the mob. But that’s not the person I want to be. I’d rather be the one applying salve to wounds, to lead someone back home, to hold out my hand to help them get back up. Because I could so easily be where they are myself.
Yes, I believe in consequences. I believe in justice. But even though I don’t think I am necessarily merciful in nature, when it gets down to it, I believe in mercy. Our world needs it. I need it. Don’t you?