19 July 2010

Mercy vs. Merits

Mercy versus merits. This is something I've been pondering for literally, years. Sometimes its more on the forefront of my brain, other times its on the proverbial back-burner. As rational humans (I can't account for the non-rational ones- there are just too many!) we tend to see the world in a cause and effect light. I speed, and therefore I get a speeding ticket. I consume more calories than my body burns, therefore I've got a bountiful booty. I am a good person, therefore I deserve good things.

It makes perfect sense. Its what we are taught as children: be good and you will go to heaven, study and you will get good grades, eat your veggies, it will put hair on your chest (channeling my dad for a second there)...you get the picture.

What parents perhaps failed to teach us is the principle of Mercy. I've lived a difficult life. Physically, emotionally, financially- I've seen the down to every up. In addition to my own follies and adventures, I am the oldest child, sibling to a much loved addict, and have witnessed first hand the devastation of addiction in a family setting. I have had unfair burdens placed upon me at young ages. And you know what, that's OK. I wouldn't trade my experiences for 10 good lives. These events have shaped me and crafted me into the woman I am today.

However, a lingering question remains: why don't I have "X"? Aren't we all looking for that one elusive thing in our lives which would complete us? For some, it is a financial windfall, an uptick in business, for others its the ever rare spouse, help-meet, for yet others it is a home to call their very own, or children to fill their loving home. I hear people say, "I'll be so happy when this finally happens!"

This very subject came up in a brief chat with a friend this weekend. Especially living in a super-religious state where religion is often confused for culture, the expectation to have just the right elements in you life is high. Many consider blessings to be a mark of righteousness. And if you're missing these blessings, then logically, you're just not up to God's high standards.

To paint a picture, I am 36 years old, single and raising my 10 year old niece. In any other state, I would be just a person, living life. Here, I am viewed as a socially flawed creature who through some act of unrighteousness who is unable to find a spouse, which I so desperately desire. People, sometimes strangers, have told me this, to my face. Crazy! I know, know, that my current marital status is NOT a reflection of righteousness. I know that people who desire children but do not have them yet are not wicked or heathen. That would really fly in the face of reason, when you see so many ridiculously crappy people having kids, or relationships, or dream homes.... :)

The cultural atmosphere is quick to forget a universal virtue, common to every religion: MERCY. The good Lord has more Mercy than we can possibly comprehend or exhaust. It soothes our wounds as a balm. It assuages the buffets of time. It calms the stormy heart, and provides hope when the world would have us believe there is none to be found.

The tricky thing about Mercy, is it has no due-date. Blessings pop up when we least expect. Years may pass while we plead and shake our fists at the heavens. I know I've watered a pillow or 10 crying over something I am so desperate for and know I deserve. It will come. That's the beauty of Mercy. It is never withheld. Even to the lowliest of us, we are still blessed with Mercy. Its OK to enjoy whatever bounties you have been blessed with, but don't look down on those who you think are some how less deserving. We should all have Mercy, and reach out to help our neighbors, our friends, our colleagues who could use a hand. We need to do good in the world, do our part to be good fill-in-the-blank (Christians, Buddhists, Jews, etc). But what we must not do, must not forget is that while merits are good- Mercy is always better. From Psalms 23:6 we learn, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life..."

I can be impatient, but I'm holding out. I not missing things in life because I'm less righteous then someone else. That is a falsehood. Don't you dare believe it if you are in a similar boat. The good Lord's Mercy always sets the scales straight- sooner or later. Until then, I'll be the best, mistake-making person I can be.


  1. Very well said!! I agree whole-heartedly. Thanks for sharing that and reminding me to think more about mercy. I don't know why people feel the need to assign blame or attribute one's lack of "things/people" to sin or unrighteousness. You are amazing.

  2. I really, really, really loved this post. Thank you... You are an incredible person and I love you! Thank you for grounding me tonight.

  3. Bebe...This is a GREAT post!!! Very well said. I really love the way you so eloquently put this together. It's beautiful. I have felt this way many many times, you are not alone on this one!!