Wednesday, October 19, 2011

When mercy sucks

I am a happy person. You bet. But happy people also feel sucky and their lives are also really complicated and painful. We simply seek out and build happiness in the middle of the pain and suckage.

Back in the days when my husband was a pastor and/or student minister, I took several tests to determine what my "spiritual gifts" were. At the top of that list, every single time, was mercy. Some would argue whether these are actually spiritual, or personality traits or what-not. Whatever your personal take is, there is no denying it:

I ooze mercy.

I cry mercy.

I sweat mercy.

I crap mercy (so maybe that's not totally possible ... but if it were, I WOULD DO IT!)

That also means that I feel the pain of the people I love. It's a blessing and a curse. I FEEL it. I carry it. I want to fix it or alleviate it or at the very least lessen it. I have been given many opportunities over the years to practice feeling mercy and not allowing it to crush me. It's hard. The more I love someone, the more I feel it.

My type of person is the reason we bring food to people after a death. We have to do something! Anything! We feel like WE will die if we can't make your life a little bit easier in those moments.

I have pushed myself to find balance in these times. I have to stop and sit with how I'm feeling (usually helpless and out of control). Oh, yikes. Hmmm. "Control" seems to always float to the top when I sit with feelings. Frick. So, perhaps my mercy starts as a very good thing, but floats to the wrong side as I start to feel the enormity of the pain, causing me to realize I can't fix everything, and then being overwhelmed with a desire to be in control.

Yeah, that's usually it. I work through it. I find that balance and allow people to hurt and be comforted/helped/loved by ALL the people in their life. I visualize myself releasing the need to control pain and distress, because let's face it ... I can't! What a waste of energy to try. I also state over and over what is true: "I can live out mercy in a healthy way, and it is good even when the pain is still there. I can come home, hang up the phone, end the conversation, whatever ... even when the pain is still present, and that is not going to make the pain worse."

I don't believe it, so I say it again. And again. And again. Then I'm better, and twenty minutes later have to say it again.

My pain? I expect pain and difficulty. But watching the people I love struggle? It kills me.

So, probably no need to review, but here we go.

Mercy = good

Crushing mercy = bad

The end.


GB's Mom said...

Like the review!

Owlhaven said...

Boy, I struggle with that too...esp in relation to not being able to fix my kids' hurts... I hate feeling ineffective.

Susie said...

I thought maybe I was reading about myself again!!

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I think I have the opposite problem - I'm too hard-hearted. I'm always struggling to find a middle ground.

Kelley said...

Oh I how I struggle with this. Amen sister!

Annie said...

I hear your pain. And your joy. I was just thinking yesterday, well - wondering how, when I could make a list 100 points long detailing how really dreadful things are (and shock my hardest-hearted listeners into feeling compassion for ME) I can still say - "But I'm always happy!" And why is that? One minute the police are hauling my daughter away in handcuffs, the next minute (just about literally) I'm following the police car through the streets thinking - but, it IS a really lovely night! Happy just keeps leaking through. At any rate, it keeps me standing.

Jenn said...

Crushing Mercy - yes. I have hurt so much with/for others that I have nearly drowned. It is a battle to be empathetic, present, kind, and generous, and not totally lose myself.

Yeah, and when it's my KIDS hurting? Still havent' figured out how to get around that one.