Extending Mercy to {Likely} the Most Difficult Person of All

Extending Mercy to {Likely} the Most Difficult Person of All

Mercy.

That word seems to pop up a lot these days, especially in Catholic circles where the faithful understand that we are in full swing of the Jubilee of Mercy. Though it is the highlight of the Church at present, mercy is something that we as humanity have continued to struggle to extend toward others since the beginning of time. 

Today, as we celebrate one of the most beautiful stories of conversion and the direct and living witness of Christ’s mercy toward Mary Magdalen, it also highlights a fundamental act of mercy that many of us tend to forget.

Ourselves.

Let me set the stage. 

Last month, I had the pleasure of speaking at a homeschool conference in my hometown of Houston, Texas. My computer decided the week before would be a good time to just. stop. working. It didn’t die – we buy Apple laptops for their longevity, but I had inherited this laptop from my husband, who originally bought it with the idea that it would be used for far less demands than I had clearly subjected the poor lil guy to. I had just finished all my calendar files and the memory just quit. 

Why is this important? 

It’s not, but it’s a detail. It changed how I prepared for my talks for the conference. I am blessed to have not just a supportive husband, but a spiritual director as well as a business mentor who help yank a knot in my tail when I need it. 

I was panicking. 

How would I prepare for these talks? My MO was shattered. My business mentor, in particular, would hear none of it. He gave me some resources, said he’d pray for me, and then promptly told me to get to work – that the Holy Spirit would work with whatever I gave Him.

You know the famous movie quote of Tom Hanks’?

THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL!!!

There’s no crying {or pouting or whining or…you get the point} in discipleship. So, I got to work. I had to get creative and go outside of my comfort zone. In the end, the talks were, I believe, quite effective – all to the Holy Spirit’s credit, of course. I had scraps of paper, some typed, some scribbled in, but the dread leading up to the talks remained no matter how much I called on the Holy Spirit to inspire me and quell my anxiety. 

It wasn’t until the second talk on the second day that something profound that I had mentioned my talk came back up at the end during Q&A.

The mercy we show others should be the mercy we show ourselves and the mercy we show ourselves ought to be the mercy we show others. 

Extending Mercy to {Likely} the Most Difficult Person of All

My talk, entitled Ways to Homeschool When Your Life Is off the Rails, covered a very important point that tied in nicely with the year of mercy that I didn’t include in my original post. 

Why do we find ourselves extending more mercy towards others in moments of encouragement and support than we will often give to ourselves in similar situations?

Imagine a friend comes to you, distraught that her homeschooling year did not turn out the way she envisioned it. Life happened and things fell apart. She is obviously very upset {perceived or real, it does not matter}. As a friend, I can take a stab in the dark and probably guess that you would respond in kindness, offer hope, listen, give advice, or help her get past her feelings of defeat. At this point, I’d like you to pull out a sheet of paper. Fold it down the middle, lengthwise. Write your friend’s name on the lefthand side of the paper crease, your name on the right. Write down some ways you would encourage your friend who is sobbing about her shortcomings to you, who has come to you seeking support. Write as many things as you possibly can of things you would say to her or do for her {give her a hug, offer to take her out for coffee, etc.}.

Now comes the sobering part. 

For many of us, let’s look at the section where our name is written down. Think of a time in your life when you envisioned some part of your life or event going a certain way, only to have life or perhaps even your own poor choices derail things. Now, I want you compare and contrast your inner dialogue to the supportive things you would say to your friend. 

If you don’t find much difference between the two, then mercy is on your side, my friend. I am so thrilled that you extend mercy toward yourself in the same way you would a friend in need of support and encouragement. 

For many of us, however, this is not the case. We often are our own worst critic. The negative self talk can skyrocket if we don’t make a concerted effort to tone it down. When we turn to the Blessed Trinity, calling each Person to help us in unique and distinct ways, it becomes a channel of grace that we must pour out…on ourselves. Can you imagine talking to a friend in need the way we might talk to ourselves? Did you cringe a bit, too? Why do we do this? Why do we think this is acceptable? Can you imagine telling your friend the very things that you hear in your own inner dialogue? 

Be kind to yourself as you would be kind to others in need. 

 

BOOK RECOMMENDATION

I received this book recommendation from a priest friend with a heart for healing. 

Be Healed 

1 comment
  • Greta atkinsonJuly 27, 2016 - 3:28 pm

    Martina,
    What a great mental image- talking and comforting ourselves as we would a friends. I never thought of that!
    You are such a funny writer, too! Love the line about the knot in your tail:)
    GretaReplyCancel