I’m Not Really in the Forgiving Mood
Have you heard? It’s the “Jubilee Year of Mercy,” declared by Pope Francis to encourage us all to extend mercy to those around us. Or, better said by St. Luke:
Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful. – Lk 6:36
But can I be honest? I hate admitting when I’m wrong. And, even more, I find it extraordinarily hard to forgive someone when they don’t readily see the error of his or her ways.
I know, super charitable and Christian of me. Tell me I’m not alone?
There is one instance, in particular, with someone I dearly love. This person is absolutely precious to me. But the choices that are being made? They’re deplorable. Unimaginable. Unforgivable, almost. The kind that make me want to pick up the phone, or stand face-to-face and just lay it out. I’m talking no holds barred, no political correctness, no kind southern platitudes, kind of chat.
But I can’t.
It’s hard to love someone when the choices they make are just so rotten. It’s hard to wipe away the bitterness and disappointment and see the heart of someone in pain, isn’t it? A dear friend recently shared with me that “hurting people hurt people.” Truer words have rarely been spoken. When you’re in a bad place, it’s just so much easier to drag the world down with you. How can you show love if it doesn’t reside within you?
And I suppose that’s the thing about mercy. We have to be bigger than our disdain, bigger than our ego, bigger than being right. Mercy doesn’t mean we condone the act, or the choice, but it means we’re choosing to love that person where they are, no matter how crappy the choice.
That certainly means I have to lean on someone bigger than me.
A few weeks ago, I gathered with some college sorority sisters for an overnight getaway in downtown Austin. It was just the four of us. We laughed until we couldn’t laugh any longer. It was great. On the drive home, as I reflected on the evening and our conversations, I was able to see just how far I’ve come since the glory days at Texas A&M. Back then, the world was black and white, all figured out in a nice, neat box. I spouted my beliefs and expected the world to see them as the gospel truth. And then I grew up and realized the world is much less about right vs. wrong and much more about meeting people where they are.
Before I pulled into my driveway, I found myself sitting in the church parking lot. I confidently walked in and sat near the Tabernacle in prayer. I’m doing that more, chatting with God and listening to what He has to say. He keeps reminding me that the grace to appreciate the depth of someone’s struggles only comes after fighting the fight yourself.
“Be kind. Be merciful,” he whispered in my ear.
I’ve been bringing the same prayer intention to him for months. It is wearing on me, heavily. Yet, amidst that inner turmoil, I see what is happening. I see God chipping away at my ability to forgive, with love and with mercy. There is no timetable for how long that process will take, but I trust in his providential timeline. He hasn’t let me down yet.
Hey K – Thinking of and praying for you BIG. Through all the trials of life, remember God’s got this. He can bring good even out of the absolute worst… Remember Joseph in the pit – who rose up to prominence and ultimately saved Egypt and then his family who had left him for dead? The bible is full of stories like this…perhaps to encourage us in times just like this. I’m trusting Him to help you be what you need to be AND to work in the midst and through the HARD. Hugging you in my heart!
Beautifully written Kathryn, and oh so right! You are truly listening to God, and posts like these are great reminders for all of us!
“It’s hard to love someone when the choices they make are just so rotten.” I can so relate to this – there is also someone special in my life that has made rotten choices that hurt so many others. My priest says to just keep on praying and forgiving, and that I’ll know that I’ve really forgiven when the memory of the person/situation doesn’t hurt anymore.
You took the words right out of my mouth! I’m struggling with the same thing…I know I should extend mercy, but what I really feel like doing is tell them like it is. It is just SO HARD to love someone where they’re at when they continually makes poor decisions with absolutely no remorse. Thank you for your honesty!
Wow, and I thought i was the only struggling with this Mercy thing. I to have been struggling with trying to see the good in someone that is making bad choices. I have been praying and asking for answers. I know my prayers have been answered, but I feel maybe I refuse to listen. I go to Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, in Carmel, IN and we have a beautiful adoration chapel….I have been finding myself also spending a lot of my time praying there….It is such a wonderful place to talk to God. Thank you for all your wonderful blogs,. I love how honest and forthcoming you are….even when it’s not so pretty. Thank you for letting us know that we all struggle but can get through it. (btw, I went back and read your story on prematurity) I related to that so much….my son was born at 27 1/2 weeks, and what a roller coaster ride that was) He is now 22, just graduated with honors (summa cum laude!) and is now discerning to be a Franciscan Friar…So God had plans for him,,,,,way in advance! God Bless you
Wow, wow, wow. I love to hear preemie success stories!
ugh. I didn’t like this. Because it’s hard. And God keeps telling me to extend mercy to the one person I don’t want to. And then I read this, so it’s Him telling me that more. and I just want to keep ignoring the pulls he is putting on my heart.
maybe I’ll listen to Him.
This speaks to me, Kathryn. I am thinking this Year of Mercy is timed so well for me as I have a mountain of forgiveness to climb with someone close to me who has hurt me deeply. My husband has shown me much mercy as I try to work through this and I am grateful for that. As you said I will keep taking my prayers to God and trust in His healing mercy.
So hard. But so freeing. You’re definitely not alone 🙂
No truer words indeed, but still so hard. A couple of years ago, we were at a local homeschooling conf and one of the talks was given by a young priest who spent many a day reflecting on the relationships Christ had with his apostles. He brought to light how they were all tailored differently. Jesus met Peter differently than he met John or James or any of the others. He did so because he was meeting them where they were and loving them there through their growth. I’ll never forget that talk. He does the same with you and I but it still doesn’t make it any easier to do the same for those around us. Esp when there’s hurt involved. Prayers for you and all of us that we constantly are learning and trying to live meeting and loving others where they are! Hugs!
This can be so difficult – especially since a work of mercy is to “admonish sinners”! Great post!
[…] our intentions that require guidance at the feet of our Lord and wait for his intercession (this post help a lot). Oh – and while we wait, try to be the best version of ourselves that we can be. […]
Wow … I have some time this morning to catch up on my fave blogger, and man, did I need to read this today. I have a friend who did me wrong a few months ago. Said some really nasty things to me, about me AND my kids. She was in a bad place, and I was the target for her bullets. But time has passed, and I’m finally at a point where I can forgive her. Mercy and kindness. It really should be a bumper sticker for all of us. Thanks for the words of wisdom. Now …. on to forgiving.
Had a priest recently tell me, “We never regret being merciful, but we do regret holding a grudge.” Ack. This is what happens when you go to confession.