I had a yucky experience during a medical procedure. “Yucky” seems less traumatic than hearing the head of the department at a renowned hospital say, “I am not really sure what is happening to you. This has never happened before.” So, I am going with yucky because it sounds a little less terrifying.
But it’s not my physical reaction that was the most significant. I was my spiritual one — my resistance to accepting mercy when I know how other people’s compassion can bless both the giver and the receiver.
A friend offered to bring my family dinner. Typically, if anyone offers to feed me, I accommodate with the gluttonous joy of a counter-surfing Labrador. I don’t like to cook. I end up with splatter stains on my clothes, salmonella all over my counters, and an overcooked entrée that I worry is still lurking with salmonella. Yet when my sweet friend offered to bring us dinner, I immediately refused. Unlike me, my friend loves to cook and doesn’t neurotically overcook things to avoid food pathogens.
Still, I resisted. I resisted because accepting help sometimes makes me feel vulnerable. I resisted because I didn’t want to acknowledge how much my health issues over the last year have distorted my identity. I resisted because I didn’t want to admit how powerless I felt. I didn’t want to be on this end of mercy. It feels so much easier to give it. I didn’t want anyone to worry about me. I didn’t want any of this.
Yet, here I am.
And, praise be to God, there was my friend who showed up with dinner anyway. There was also my mom who brought soups and cookies. And, when I left early the next morning for yet another doctor’s appointment, I tripped over a gift bag on my front steps from a friend who showed up in the wee hours of the morning on her way to work to drop a little gift by my house. I didn’t need any of it but I was grateful for all of it.
Mercy by definition isn’t something we deserve or can repay. It’s a gift of compassion that reminds us that we can share the burden of our crosses. We aren’t meant to carry them alone. We are made stronger by letting someone help us when we feel weak. “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9).
Once I let my guard down enough to receive the love being offered, I was reminded of yet another benefit of mercy – its power to heal. It’s kind of like medicine. Sometimes it can be hard to take, yet it makes everything better.
Hi, all ~ I wrote this several months ago. I didn’t post it at the time because it felt too vulnerable with everything I was dealing with. But, whether you have had your own health issues or not, I hope it resonates with you. One of the things I realized while doing works of mercy for a year – that I really try to convey in my book, Simple Mercies, is that we are all in need of mercy. Moreso, we are all worthy of it. We only need to look at the cross to see how much that is true. So, my prayer for you this week, and always, really, is that you will accept the beautiful mercies that are offered to you throughout each day. They are gifts of grace and I can tell you from experience, that they make all the difference. Love~ Lara
P.S. — I am doing well so do not worry about me!