I’ve been thinking a lot about mercy. On a day-to-day basis, what does mercy look like? How do I extend mercy to the people around me moment by moment. Sure there are the grand gestures, like feeding the hungry, sponsoring a child in 3rd world country, or like I heard recently on the radio, allowing a homeless family to live in your home for a year at no cost while you live in your parent’s basement. But we can’t always do those things, I can’t always do those things. So what CAN I do? How does mercy become the way I live, the WHO I am?
I read a blog recently where the woman said she was no longer going to live hiding in shame… she was going to allow herself to be imperfect and not berate herself for making mistakes, not fear if things don’t turn out as expected and even if everything falls apart, she will practice life with courage… I was moved to tears… I too want to live my life that way… courageous, I want to show up, not hide in the shadows, cowering in fear, ruminating over all the ‘what-ifs’. I want to be present, I want to be seen….
….. and then it hit me!
If everyone is busy being seen, who is doing the seeing? Please don’t misunderstand me. When I talk about being seen I’m not condemning anyone. I’m not talking about arrogant, puffed-up, prideful people who force everyone to look at them. I’m talking about what Brene Brown refers to a “wholehearted living”. Being vulnerable, willing to be flawed, living transparently, with an open heart…. showing up, being present… but it can’t stop there. If I’m going to show-up and been seen, am I willing to “see” as well?
One of my favourite stories in the Bible is when Hagar and Ishmael get sent away by Sarah and Abraham. Ishmael is left by a tree and Hagar goes a way off because she cannot watch her son die. Then God speaks, He tells her to get up, to keep going, He will not let Ishmael or her die… Hagar’s response is “I have seen the God who SEES me”. Don’t we all want someone to really SEE us. I love it when I am in a crowded room and I hear a familiar faint whistle and look across the room to Tim looking right at me, then he’ll wink. In the midst of ALL those people, he SEES me…. he sees ME.
So here’s the kicker…. to “show-up and be seen” and to “see” are not mutually exclusive, and I might go so far as to say they walk in tandem.
I will show-up in my life. I will live with courage and a wholeheart. But I will also live “seeing”. And maybe that is how I can live mercy. I want to “see” really “SEE” the people around me. I want to “SEE” you.
I cannot solve world hunger, I cannot stop crazy men from going into schools and killing young children. I cannot alleviate suffering. But I CAN see your suffering. And I can sit with you in your suffering and provide the small comfort that you are “not alone”, that you are “seen”. That someone is by your side.
I can also rejoice with you, laugh with you. Be grateful and praise God when your life is beautiful and all is well with you. Triumph in your triumphs.
So I’ve decided that to live a life of mercy…. is to “see”, truly “see” those around me….
I’ll be seeing ya,