I grew up around boys. A LOT of boys. For most of my early childhood, I was in a neighborhood with about 20 of them . . . and then me. I learned how to build forts and dig traps around the perimeter to keep the boys out of my hideaways. I learned how to catch salamanders and tadpoles without falling into a creek. And, I learned how to beg for mercy to stop Indian burns from leaving a mark (if you’ve never experienced one, think: a relentless twisting and rubbing of the skin on your arm until you believe it might actually catch fire.)
I learned early on that one of the few ways to get out of an uncomfortable match-up was to call for mercy. Ok, shout for mercy. It was the single thing that made them retreat. The single thing that meant you gave up. The single thing that got you off the hook.
In my relatively short time being a single mom, I’ve come in contact with a lot of other moms on this same path. Each story is unique, each struggle different, and each one heartbreaking in the fact that no mother ever wants her family to fall apart—not one.
And in all of my encounters with these women, as they reach out to tell their story, they all have the same need: someone to hear that story and offer something it seems they haven’t seen much of recently: mercy.
Mercy as they cry and pour their heart out to someone who is safe.
Mercy when I tell them that there is still good in their lives, there is still good in them.
Mercy instead of judgment.
Sometimes, mercy is all you need.
My heart breaks for each of them, even as I do all I can to point them toward healing that deep wound within. My heart breaks in understanding, because I have a matching wound. And though mine is beginning to form a scar as God heals it, it’s still tender to the touch at times.
Sometimes, mercy is all you have to offer.
Because God has shown me the same mercy during this most difficult time in my life, it’s filled me with an overabundance of mercy toward others. I’m merciful because I’ve experienced the sweet relief that comes from someone whose looked at my life and offered mercy when I certainly didn’t feel I deserved it. In such a compassionate and loving way, that they stood out from what everyone else in my life was saying.
From family members who have forgiven hurts in order to be there for me during my time of need.
From friends who haven’t asked questions about what happened in an attempt to gain a morsel for later conversation, but because they deeply cared and wanted me to know it.
From church leaders who watched me approach them in shame, and encouraged me to lift my head—and my hands—toward heaven.
Isn’t that where God wants all of us in our walk? To live and give mercy?
Isn’t that what we all need? More mercy in our lives?
Whether we shout for it or can barely manage a whisper.
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