Just Mercy

A few days ago, a friend sent me an email with this quote from the book, Just Mercy.

Mercy is most empowering, liberating, and transformative when it is directed at the undeserving. The people who haven’t earned it, who haven’t even sought it, are the most meaningful recipients of our compassion . . . we’ve submitted to the harsh instinct to crush those among us whose brokenness is most visible. But simply punishing the broken – walking away from them or hiding them from our sight – only ensures that they remain broken and we do, too.

My church has a women’s night meditation group on Wednesday night. We read a portion of scripture aloud three times. Then, we pause to reflect on its meaning in our lives. Then we repeat the reading three times again with fresh questions as we note the verses or thoughts that come up from the reading. This past week, we read the story of the woman at the well from the book of John. As you may recall, Jesus met a woman at a well in Samaria, and he asked her to serve him water from the well. She’s surprised at his request. Men didn’t talk to women, at least in public, and even more so, a woman he didn’t know. Finally, she’s suspect because she’s a Samaritan woman, belonging to a group of people who the Jews at the time were at odds with.

But Jesus talks to her, revealing who she is, and also offering her a chance of hope and redemption as he reveals himself as the living water. As the group at my church read the passage, I found myself drawn to this woman. I felt as if I were her, underserving and frankly surprised that Jesus would speak to me. I don’t deserve it. My prayer life is a quick thing each morning lately, with my thoughts scattered in a thousand directions rather than on the one thing I need – God.

Lately, I have been leaning into mercy. I watched Just Mercy, the movie. I wept for the injustice and final righting of wrongs for the wrongfully convicted Walter McMillian. Then, I read the book of the same title written by Bryan Stevenson. Unless you have a heart of stone, the book and the movie will move you. It moved me towards compassion and mercy.

It’s not that I am such a great Christian, either. I was moved because I need mercy. I need compassion. I need forgiveness. Everyday, I need it. I have joined Noom* to help me with reaching my goals for losing weight. It doesn’t require special foods or buying their stuff. I’ve lost about 10 pounds in the past 2 weeks. But I have so far to go. I am fat. I need to stop unhealthy eating patterns. Eating a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream is way too easy for me. I need to walk, bike, or do something in my free time beside sit in front of a screen, either online or the television.

When I look at myself, I see someone who needs mercy. Mercy because of my lack of self-care, mercy for my lack of spiritual devotion, and mercy for all the other things I struggle with everyday. I am reminded of a story by Ann Lamott. She tells of visiting a friend in her kitchen, chatting as her young son played nearby. Suddenly, he whelped out a cry. She looked down and saw that his head was stuck between the legs of a chair. He cried out, “Help me. I need help with me. ”

That’s my cry today. Lord, help me. I need help with me.

*Noom is an app on your phone that helps you track your weight, monitor what you eat, and connect with like-minded people in your same situation.

8 thoughts on “Just Mercy

  1. I remember the story of Jesus meeting the Samaritan woman at the well, and how he extended his mercy to her. In addition to being a Samaritan, I think she also had had four or five husbands, which must have made her somewhat disreputable. Jesus didn’t care about any of that.

    But I think before we embark on a crusade or mercy toward others, we should have mercy on ourselves, recognize our failings but that also we are worthwhile people deserving of the mercy of Jesus, and we hope, other people.

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  2. A friend of mind said covid curves are cute… And then we’ll take them off…

    I don’t agree they’re so cute on me, but we will take them off, if we put our minds to it. Either the night before, or early when I wake up, I plan my day with some form of activity in mind. if I don’t, my walks seem to go out the window, and then there’s the frequent summer rains here. There are only short windows for swimming or any outside activity. But the early mind planning to do something seems to work, rather then leaving it up in the air.
    We’re all in the same running river these days, be easy on yourself with some precise visions, and loving thoughts in mind.

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  3. Mercy for others is good for your heart, and what is good for your heart is good for you. I’m not the most forgiving person but most people are deserving of at least some mercy, what you give comes back to you and we all need some mercy our selves.

    Weight loss is not easy I have been working at it for a while now and I feel better for it. It takes a while and I start in the morning with a workout that makes me feel better for the day. One day at a time.
    Some days you lose weight some days you just feel better, eating healthier is Interesting in it self I look at what might be interesting and try it. Show your self some mercy and do enjoy your self and others.

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    1. I appreciate the sentiment to show myself some mercy and forgiveness, too. I do tend to be hard on myself. I can and will eat better and be healthier each day. Like you said, One day at a time.

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