Guest post today by Lindsay Schlegel
I grew up watching Full House, and hearing Uncle Jesse say “Have mercy!” in every episode. It was a line that always got a laugh, even though I didn’t know why. As a child, I didn’t have a real understanding of what “mercy” meant, either in the Tanner home or in the context of my faith. I might have said it was being kind or letting things that upset you go.
Fast forward a couple of decades, and I now find myself as a mother of five children, from infant to tween. It’s a gift and a blessing, but it’s also a stage of life that requires a new definition of mercy: kindness and resilience, yes, but also peace, humility, joy, and a generous openness to developing an intimate understanding of the other person.
Every day, I’m trying to teach my children to be gentle and charitable, to have mercy with one another. And at the same time, I’m discovering how necessary—and how freeing—it is to have mercy with myself, after the Lord’s example.
I want to parent my children well. I want to serve God joyfully. I want to be a good wife. I want to create something that glorifies God when I write, edit, and record episodes of my podcast. But I’m a fallen creature. I struggle with pride, impatience, and frustration. I am limited by the finite amount of energy I have and the static number of hours in a day.
In a word, I can’t do it all on my own.
Of course, God doesn’t expect me to live my vocation and my calling on my own. He wants to help me. He intends to be by my side. And He also allows me the choice of whether or not to let Him in.
He invites me to a relationship with Him in the sacramental graces in marriage and baptism (both my own and those of my children). He opens Himself to me in forgiving my sins in confession. He offers true communion in the Mass.
I also experience God’s mercy in how my children love me. I see it in their smiles. I hear it in their easy, “It’s okay, Mommy” when I mess up. I feel it in the tight hugs and sweet bedtime kisses. I smell it in the flowers (okay, weeds) they bring me. I taste it in the foods they’re learning to make to contribute to our family dinners.
My children’s love is teaching me, each day, to be gentle with myself, to have mercy with myself, to let God in, and to stop trying to do all of life on my own. I assure you, it’s not picture-perfect over here, but the more I pray for my family’s all-around wellbeing, the more opportunities I’m seeing to appreciate the way the Lord is present in our home. His mercy is real and tangible — when I remember to see it.
My journey as a mom teaches me to extend mercy to others, and it’s also teaching me to accept mercy—mercy from my children, mercy from God, and mercy from myself.
My Father in Heaven is that generous openness and intimate relationship that I am called to offer to others. My vocation shows me how.
Lindsay Schlegel is the author of Don’t Forget to Say Thank You: And Other Parenting Lessons That Brought Me Closer to God. She and her high-school-sweetheart-turned-husband live in New Jersey with their five children.
Hi all~ I hope you enjoyed Lindsay’s post about motherhood and mercy. I can’t think of two words that go together more (so remember that when you are buying gifts for the mama’s in your life or, if you are like me when you are buying some gifts for yourself- just in case!) Mama or not, mercy is the get-out-of-jail-free card that is available to all of us. It really is the best gift!
Simple Mercy: This weekend I was at an event with different vendors and I was speaking to one of them about some wooden jewelry she had made. And, of course, me being a jewelry girl, I had all of these ideas for her, including making a rosary bracelet, (which I had to explain to her what it was- we can evangelize even when we shop!) Before I left she thanked me. She said she wasn’t feeling very confident about selling her work and that she really appreciated all my encouragement. This made me so happy because I know just how much encouragement means when I have received it from others. So, if you are looking for a simple mercy to do today, encourage someone!