Today, our Lord taught me a very important lesson about mercy. I've been devoted to the Divine Mercy Chaplet and Novena for many years now and I "know" (meaning I recognize with my thinking but not always truly feel or understand) that Jesus is there simply waiting to dole out His mercy upon us if we just ask. Oh, but how easy it is to forget the second step in the "mercy process". In the Our Father we are reminded "Forgive us our trespasses AS WE FORGIVE THOSE who tresspass against us." At the end of the Divine Mercy Chaplet there is a beautiful prayer that states: "Eternal God, in whom mercy is endless and the treasury of compassion inexhaustible, look kindly upon us and increase your mercy toward us so that in difficult moments we will not despair nor become despondent but with great confidence submit ourselves to your holy will, which is love and mercy itself." Yes we are most definitely expected to participate fully in step two, sharing that mercy with others.
You may be asking yourself, "Ok so what does all that have to do with the lesson you learned today, Maria?". Well, sometimes I forget that the people who need my love and mercy the most are the ones who are the closest to me, my family.
This week has been a rough "listening week", to say the least, for my oldest, Pickle. Let's just say, this week he has been really showing his independent thinking by trying to respond to my directions with his own actions. The problem with this is that many times five year old thinking does not take into account consequences and safety the way a parent's mind does. Yet it is through this very struggle that we both learned a priceless lesson.
Today, Pickle was playing with his younger brother, little Bean, when he decided it was a good idea to run around the kitchen pushing Bean's walker and slamming it in the walls. I told Pickle several times to stop doing this as he was going to hurt himself or Bean. Sometimes, I guess lessons are learned best through experience. Within seconds of my third explanation (like a good mother, providing rationale and reason for the what's and why's of my directives), I hear a great BANG and Pickle immediately begins to scream and cry "I broke the walker!". I turned around and all I see is blood everywhere! Pickle was in shock that he broke his brother's toy that he hadn't even noticed he was hurt.
Sidenote: Anyone who knows me, knows I am NOT good in emergency situations. I tend to freeze completely or scream when I see the sight of blood. But something happened inside of me in that moment. I was absolutely calm. It was as if I was moving in slow motion and my thoughts became crystal clear: 1) find the source of the bleeding, 2) stop the bleeding, 3) determine the severity of the injury, 4) remain calm so Pickle can calm down as well. I KNOW?! This is definitely not me. It was as if I was a different person, someone possessed, going through these motions only through the grace of God, I can assure you!
Quickly, I took Pickle's hand, sat him on the kitchen counter next to the sink, grabbed a handful of wet paper towels and dabbed the blood away. It continued to gush down his throat, in his mouth, all over his teeth, I just couldn't figure out where it was coming from. Finally, I was able to stop the bleeding long enough to see there were three sources from which it was comine, his top lip was split, his chin was scratched several times, and underneath his chin there was a deeper cut where most of the blood was gushing forth. Within a few minutes the bleeding was stopped and I was able to really assess Pickle. He was scared but he was just fine (Thank you Pickle's Guardian Angel!). Nothing a little cold compress and a few band-aids couldn't fix. Little Bean was just fine too (Thank you Bean's Guardian Angel!).
Yet, Pickle could not calm down. He was so devastated the he broke his brother's toy he couldn't stop crying or breathe. This was the moment, I felt the Lord teaching me a lesson. As much as I wanted to yell and scream that I am so tired of telling you to follow my directions the first time they are given and this is what you get when you don't listen to mom and so on and so forth, it was like the Holy Spirit spoke to me. In that moment, only one word came to my mind "mercy, mercy, mercy". This is what the Lord was asking of me. Have mercy on Pickle in this moment. He has learned his lesson the hard way. Now is not the time for a lecture but the time for mercy. The time to show my son that no toy is more valuable than the love I have for him and no action he could ever do, would diminish that love.
With those words on my heart, I spent the next half hour loving him and explaining to him gently that no matter what choices he makes (good or bad) I will always love him, and just like Jesus forgives us for our mistakes, so I forgive him for his. Of course, once he realized he had to eventually tell Dad what happened after he gets home from work today, a new torrent of tears came streaming down his cheeks. Oh how I wished at that moment I could take away his anguish! I wanted desperately to offer to call my husband for him and to explain everything but again the Holy Spirit spoke "mercy" and I understood. As hard as it would be for me to see him worry about having to admit his mistake to his father, I also knew that it was something for which he MUST take responsibility. If I stepped in now, I would be doing him a greater disservice, and taking some of the real life-lesson out of this moment. I realized that sometimes, having mercy is consciously choosing to do the most difficult thing of all, watch your child struggle. This too is a great mercy as I am teaching my child that with every choice he makes there is a consequence, sometimes good, sometimes bad. With every consequence, he must take responsibility for those actions. What a hard lesson for a five year old to learn! But if not now, then when? And in what higher-stakes situation?
Sometimes having mercy on our loved ones means we will have to watch them suffer for the sake of learning a bigger lesson. Sometimes, having mercy means we too will suffer with them. I think I may finally understand, on a very very small scale, how Jesus feels watching us make mistakes. How He LONGS for us to make the right choice but how He knows the consequences of our actions will help us to learn the tough lessons of life and that maybe, just maybe He too suffers along with us all because He wishes to grant us the most wonderful gift of all...mercy!
Blessing to you and your and may mercy be flowing from you today and everyday!