Extending God’s Mercy…Also Known As Minding Your Own Business
Recently I’ve been pondering God’s mercy in my life and what exactly that means to me. All the time, I catch myself saying “I’m so grateful for God’s mercy in my life. I’m so grateful for those tender little mercies. God is so merciful to me, I am so eternally grateful for that.”
Then I realized, what am I actually saying? What does it mean to me personally to say “God’s mercy”? Am I just throwing out a blanket term to cover a wide expanse of experiences, emotions, and feelings?
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The answer came when I realized that even though I welcomed God’s mercy into my own life, I wasn’t necessarily extending it to the lives of others. To me God’s mercy is his never-ending, eternal love. It’s knowing that I can repent and return to live with him forever. God’s mercy is having faith and believing that he really does know me personally, knows my wants, fears, and needs. Ultimately, God’s mercy is his acceptance of me, right now, exactly as I am. It’s his acceptance of my current efforts as enough, and his belief in the progress I can make in the future. God’s mercy is God’s love, simply put.
When I realized exactly what I meant in being grateful for “God’s mercy”, I realized the importance of extending God’s mercy to those around me.
If I am so grateful for God loving me wholeheartedly, just exactly as I am right now…how important is it that I do the same to those around me? Pretty dang important. Think about it. He loved us enough to send us to Earth to make our own decisions knowing full well we would make mistakes, and make them often. Instead of abandoning us to pain and sorrow, he then sent Christ to atone for our sins and rescue us from our own mistakes. It doesn’t stop there, however. Each and every time we make a mistake, or repeat a mistake, or still haven’t learned our lesson, God has every right to judge. He has every right to give up, to throw in the towel, yell, scream, and say “haven’t you learned yet!? You need to do this. Forget your plan, I’ve been through this before, so I know what you need to do. Listen to me, do it my way, and you’ll have instant happiness.”
Now, lets apply this to our lives. How many times do we see people struggling, and in our empathy for them think “oh if they would only do_______ then they would be happy and this problem would be solved.” Or how about this one “I totally know what you’re going through, I’ve been there before. You need to _______ and you’ll be just fine.” Sounding familiar? Yeah, me too.
What if, we quit the dialogue, we quit trying to fix people’s problems and instead learned to just love them instead. What if we changed the dialogue to “I’m really sorry you’re having a hard time, but I want you to know I care about you. I can see that you’re really trying to figure this out, and I’m here to help you in any way that you need.” See what happened there? Amazing isn’t it. You’re still supporting, you’re still loving, you’re still being the friend that they need….you’re just not inserting your solution to the problem. You are loving them enough to give them their agency, to let them wade through the muck and learn the lessons they need to learn for whatever reason that may be. You are telling them that you love them exactly as they are, troubles and all.
It’s a new goal of mine to love everyone I come across exactly as they are right then. It’s my goal to show love, acceptance, and kindness towards the efforts they are making right now, and believe in the potential of their future. I want people to feel God’s love through me as I accept them as they are, show them kindness, and support them in their future.
God has a distinct plan for each one of us, and how are we to know what another’s plan is? God shapes us through mysterious ways, and often times the consequences of our own agency are the experiences we need to humble ourselves, remember God, and progress to a higher self. I have literally seen the power of God’s mercy change lives, mend relationships that were holding on by a thread, and bring happiness and peace to places where they were thought to be lost forever.