"When a soul recognises the will of God and shows a readiness to submit to it entirely, then God gives Himself to such a soul and renders it most powerful succour under all circumstances." - Rev. Jean-Pierre de Caussade

Sunday, March 20, 2016

We're all in need of mercy

It seems like social media and the news is always coming out with a new story...

...the celebrity that said a racial slur 20 years ago. 
...the politician who doesn't have a clean past.
...the teacher accused of an inappropriate relationship with a student.
...the professional athlete accused of cheating.
...the spouse who had an affair.

The list goes on and on.

It's so, so easy to just assume everything you hear is true and to start judging the victim, saying they should have known better and that they deserve everything coming to them.

Until it happens to someone you know.

I'm naturally a very critical, judgmental person. My first instinct is to assume the worst. But it's something I've been working on, because 1) you don't keep friends that way, and 2) Jesus was the complete opposite and I'm very much striving to be like Him.

So when I heard some not-so-good things about someone who used to be my best friend, I surprised myself even by being completely and 100% in disbelief. I didn't believe it. I still don't, actually, but even if I found out it was true – you know what?

It doesn't matter anyway. We need to start extending mercy and not judgment. I'm not perfect, you're not perfect, and my friend is not perfect. But we can all help each other get closer to that perfection to which God calls us.

My least favorite part of Palm Sunday is during the Gospel reading when the congregation is supposed to play the part of everyone condemning Jesus to death. “Crucify him! Crucify him!” they all shout. But I don't want to say that...I don't want to crucify Jesus, I tell myself. 

And today it hit me that I do that more often than I care admit.

When I just assume the grouchy man in the checkout line is a miserable bastard. Maybe he's just in pain after the death of his wife and needs a friend. 
When I see an overwhelmed mom of littles and think, she shouldn't have so many if she can't handle it. But maybe she's actually a newly single mom who just found out one of her kids was diagnosed with a medical condition. 
When a woman can't bring herself to look at my pregnant belly and 2 little boys. Maybe she's dealing with infertility or just lost a baby of her own.

Every single time I see someone and make cruel assumptions, I'm crucifying Jesus. That's a hard thing to admit! So instead, I try very hard (and still fail sometimes) to assume the best. No matter what the situation is, I think of any possible explanation that is in that person's favor – and not condemning them.

Well, you're just naïve, you might be thinking. Some people really are just as bad as they seem.

You would be right. But even then, what those people need are our love, encouragement, and prayers – maybe they don't get it from anyone else.

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