When Mercy Wins

He asks me, with his big blue eyes and those long eye-lashes, while he’s laying there on his pillow, about my first mommy and daddy. “You know, your bad mom and dad?” And I don’t like to call them bad, because they did some stupid things and some wrong things, but I just don’t believe they ever intentionally meant to hurt me. I have all this compassion for them, so I try to explain that they just didn’t take care of me very well.

“Oh,” he says quietly, “they just left you alone.” I cry a little and try not to let him see. Because years have passed and now that I have a little boy and a little girl, I can see how a mama or a daddy has to be pretty messed up, and pretty darn wrecked-up to ever leave their babes alone.

“But why did they not take very good care of you, Mama?” Now, I’ve got all this compassion, but I want him to really see, that how we live our life, profoundly affects the lives of those around us. So, I tell him, in my gentle voice, “We’ve all got choices, Gideon. We all get to choose if we’re gonna do the right thing or the wrong thing. They just kept choosing the wrong thing.”  

“But, Mama, how did you get to Nanny and Pa’s house?” When he’s really curious, his eyes get all squinty. He’s only four, so I give him the short answer. “Well, the police came and took me.”

“Oh, that was nice of them.” And then he rolls over, ‘cause it’s nap-time and he’s got a hundred more questions rattling around in there, but his brain is getting fuzzy and he needs some sleep.

And I wonder someday how I’ll explain to him about the drugs and how my mama was a prostitute because she ached for love and she really needed the money. And how my daddy always had cigarettes and a beer and oftentimes another woman.

And  I want him to feel the weight of how much it matters what we do. But, I also want him to see that we’ve all got our crud, so there’s no need to point a condemning finger. We can’t always know what all a person has been through. Some folks are actually doing pretty good considering the load that they’ve been dealt. I hope he’ll  always make room in his heart, for mercy.

Mercy fills up the heart of God. I can give mercy because I’ve been given mercy, at the break of each new day. I can forgive the ugly because I’ve been forgiven much ugliness. And God can take the crud and in His own redemptive way, He turns the marred and maimed into something beautiful.

And yes, God is a God of justice and He doesn’t let evil off the hook. It’s why He sent His Son, to pay the penalty that was due. Perfect Beauty, Himself, became broken and bloodied, when justice struck a blow. And, in the end, all the wrongs will be made right and all the sad will come untrue.

So, I’ll tell my kids the truth, as best I can. But, I’ll speak it in a tender way. Because there’s room in this heart of mine for mercy. And I’ve seen, so I believe, how even though God allows the ugly, He’s in the business of redeeming.

I look over at my boy fast asleep, and there’s no doubt in my mind, that God wastes none of our pain or suffering. All that could have ended in a tattered up tragedy, He uses as material. Yes, we’re all a bit frayed at the edge, but His grace-threads bind up our wounds and He weaves a masterpiece. This redemptive mercy-hearted God of mine is piecing it all together. Our Maker makes beautiful things. 

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