We don’t hear much about mercy anymore. Have you noticed that? I find that disappointing and worry that we don’t hear the word because most people no longer practice mercy or know what it really means.
Mercy has to do with compassion and with grace. Remember compassion, anyone? And who knows what grace means these days? God gives grace. Grace is a participation in the life of God. It’s a precious gift that makes us more like God every time He heaps it upon us. We just have to ask for it and be open to receive it. Jesus shows mercy and expects mercy from all of us. It’s the ability to forgive people for the things they’ve done that have hurt others and themselves. It’s the desire to make broken people whole and to heal when we could harm.
When we harm out of spite, or anger, or just because we can because we have the ability or the power, that’s the polar opposite of mercy. Have you heard about people, or even institutions doing that to people? We have to figure out a way to listen to each other, to love one another without conditions. That’s what God’s grace can do for you. And that’s where mercy comes from.
If you’ve ever heard the parable about the prodigal son, that’s a beautiful story about mercy. You can find it in the New Testament Gospel of Luke. Check out Chapter 15, verses 11 through 32. I’ll wait.
Well? What did you think? The dad in that story represents God. Who are you in the story? Are you the older brother who is upset with the dad for forgiving and welcoming back the younger brother? I hope not. Life’s too short to hold grudges. Re-read what the father says to his older son about all the dad has already belonging to his older, obedient son. It’s all good. Just keep doing what you’re doing, except welcome your little bro home now, too!
You can be the prodigal son. Prodigal means extravagant, by the way. If you’ve done some things you’re not proud of, even too many things, God will take you back. He is merciful! That’s full of mercy, our topic today. God knows your heart and if you are truly sorry for all the harm you’ve caused yourself and others, God will forgive you. And, oh, how heaven will rejoice!
To get back to my initial thought today, where is mercy? Those in our society who join in the hate do not know the meaning of the word and very few, outside of certain religious persuasions, hardly ever talk about it. To be a little less preachy, it’s also a classy virtue. That’s also in short supply these days in the public square.
Here’s a song about the prodigal son and his dear, sweet, amazing father. We should all run to him, and just melt into his loving, forgiving embrace. And then remember that awesome feeling and go and do the same for others.
A couple of weekends ago a rather impressive number of men gathered to witness for life, for babies and the women who carry them. And that is a beautiful thing. This year’s Men’s March Against Abortion in Washington, D.C. was a first so we can hope that the word will spread and more men will make the trip to our nation’s capital to join in the march next year.
Many in our American culture tends to think in terms of women only when they consider the abortion issue. It’s a “personal choice” of the woman because she carries the baby (or clump of cells, depending on one’s outlook) so it is solely her decision whether to carry or extinguish the life within.
But men have a large role in the conception, birth, and subsequent care for this child outside the womb. If only we would just allow them to take up that role, indeed, if only we would expect them to take a part in the life of the woman carrying the child they created together and in that child’s nurturing and upbringing to adulthood.
When women have babies, deliver these tiny, unique, made-in-the-image-of-God, people, there is an expectation that the mothers will care for them. But fathers have an obligation and a right to help raise and care for those children, as well. It’s up to our society to encourage this way of thinking and to actually educate or raise awareness that it’s right and just for the fathers to be involved in all aspects of a baby’s life, beginning with conception but going well beyond that moment.
In the Old Testament, God instructs Moses to pass on the holy tradition of Passover after the Lord institutes the meal that commemorate His people’s deliverance from bondage. And how does that wise and obedient Moses do this? By teaching the story and all its ramifications for the Chosen People to the children!
Yes, Moses tells the adults who experienced the actual deliverance, all the plagues and all the wonders of God’s involvement in freeing the people, who prepare and eat this Passover supper, to make sure their children are involved and learn all about it so they will spend their whole lives not only doing the thing, but knowing why and passing it on to those who come after them. And still we find those who observe the Jewish faith, thousands of years later, celebrating the Passover meal and continuing to teach it to their children. That’s tradition and it only survives when we involve our children, the next generation, and tell them why we are doing things!
I bring up Moses’ Passover “plan” here, to suggest the reason why we have so many people walking around, especially men, who don’t know they are supposed to be good fathers, let alone what a good father is, or why it matters that they are part of their children’s lives, or why they have to cherish and protect the woman who is the mother of their children. Our western culture has really obfuscated the role of men in the family by ridiculing or criticizing the God given gifts that men possess. It’s old-fashioned, it’s sexist, it’s unnecessary for a man to be an important part of a woman’s life or a child’s life, many declare. And that is perhaps the biggest tragedy of our modern age.
The Men’s March Against Abortion could be called ‘The Men’s March: Taking Back Our Jobs in the Family.’ But that’s just my humble suggestion. This fight for the lives of our children has to include the women who carry them – their well-being and their desire for the father of their children to be involved in both their lives, mom and baby, no matter what.
It’s an idealized view, perhaps. But if we don’t have an ideal to aspire to, then we have confusion and resentment. If we don’t have a ‘why’ for the man’s involvement in the life of a child and the woman who is that child’s mother, we have our present prevailing attitude that it’s all up to the women who are in unplanned pregnancies and the men are no longer a factor. It is not surprise, then, that many women see abortion as their only choice…
Yes, that is a tragedy for humanity, because if the children who go on living don’t know their fathers or know the love and strength that can enhance their lives, we are ignoring the family as God intended it. And when we sweep away so many children’s lives as if they are nothing, women and men also suffer. Our society becomes more callous, less compassionate, weaker and more selfish.
So, kudos to the Men’s March Against Abortion for their first attempt and may God bless these men and all who will learn of it and join in next time. And may raising awareness of the crucial role men also play in the life of a child result in changed hearts in men and women so that babies who are conceived are brought to birth and loved and nurtured by both their moms and their dads. Amen.
I saw this very true statement on some social media post a while back. I’m sorry I can’t recall where it was, but that doesn’t negate the veracity of it.
This is where wisdom comes from: learning from the times we lose even though we tried with everything we had; learning from mistakes we wish we could undo; learning from pain that one day turns to joy.
Compassion is often born out of those times when we were denied kindness or mercy after we made a mistake, made a bad decision, wandered in the wrong direction. The wise are most likely battered, bruised, maybe even scarred, but they are still standing and grateful to be.
The wise, compassionate ones are moved to action, to heal, to forgive, to be merciful. If you’re lucky, or better yet, when grace moves in, when you don’t win, you learn!
The Search - A Review
The Search is an intriguing semi-autobiographical story that chronicles the lives of three strong women and the effects a ‘closed’ adoption had on all their lives. At the time the birth mother decides to place her child with an adoptive family, “closed” adoptions almost always were the norm. In a closed adoption the birth mother did not have any contact with the family who was accepting the baby. And the child would never know who his or her birth parents were. Thankfully, this is no longer the case. (Open adoptions, with the adoptive parents and their child knowing the birth mother - and sometimes the father - are most common today.)
The stories of Maeve, Celia, and Nicole are shared with a candor that one could only expect from an author who has found herself after a long “journey to self-discovery,” the book’s subtitle. Each woman has her unique story to tell and the author, Dawn Nicoli, tells each woman’s tale with honesty and an understanding heart as a child of adoption herself.
These women are not idealized or judged. The narrative throughout is shared in an objective, though personal, manner. The women do not excuse their actions or try to hide any of their motivations or actions that are germane to the telling of their stories. Interestingly, none are looking for sympathy or approval from the reader. This is just what happened and what they experienced and felt along their journeys.
The lives of the three women entwine because of Nicole, the daughter who has the desire and the drive to find her birth mother. In the end, it is this meeting that leads to the youngest woman, the one who is searching, over most of her life really, to discover the part of her that is missing. “What is the rest of the story?” It’s a natural question to which any inquisitive mind wants an answer. It seems to give her the closure she needs.
Nicole is content and even grateful to find and meet her birth mother. But she is also thankful for her real mother, the woman who brought home that tiny baby and made a place for her in her home and, just as importantly or probably more so, in her heart.
The Search is a rare glimpse into the minds and hearts of the three main characters in any adoption story. Yes, there are fathers, too, but in this scenario, the birth father is not in the picture long enough to matter and the adoptive father arguably hurts as much as he helps.
This is a woman’s story, or rather three women’s stories, who are inextricably linked though they don’t know each other for most of their lives. But both mothers helped make Nicole who she is, and she takes us along on her journey of self-discovery as well as the journeys of the two most crucial women in her life. Each finds out a lot about themselves by story’s end.
Without both mothers, who would Nicole have been? Without Celia’s willingness to make her part of her family, she may have had a very different life without parents and a brother and may not have had the advantages she was given to make her way in the world. And without Maeve’s selfless decision to carry her baby place her in adoption, Nicole would not have been at all.
You can find the Kindle version of The Search on Amazon at
Thoughts on Mary Poppins
Sometimes, when I don't know what to say, a song shows up that says it for me. And that's today. So, listen to this song by Big Daddy Weave, but read the words, too. Use them as a prayer. Go on. It will do you good.
I couldn't help but think of supercalifragilisticexpialidocious when I wrote the opening words above. It's "something to say when you don't know what to say!" If you haven's seen the original Mary Poppins, where this amazing word originated, I highly recommend it. I always wanted to live on Cherry Tree Lane when I was a kid. That's the street the Banks family lives on in the movie. Probably in the book, too. I never read it, sad to say. But I've seen the movies so many times, I've lost count.
But life is not that much fun. One thing about the film: even amidst some pretty dour stuff, and some very unhappy, inattentive and sometimes even unloving people, Jane and Michael Banks find joy in life; they still love and are loved. That's what Mary P does for them. She shows them that there is much in life to be thankful for, and even ways to find joy in the seemingly darkest moments. I actually think we could learn a LOT from Mary Poppins and her charges, the children who never really give up hope because they know they are loved and that someone is always looking out for them. This is not unrelated to the "I Know" song, by the way. God is always with us. Even in our seemingly darkest hours. We can find joy in that. If we really believe. It's not 'magical' like it is with Mary Poppins, though. It's more like miraculous like it is with Mary the Mother of Jesus, who says to God, "Be it done to me according to Your word," and wondrous, life changing, world shaking, eternal joys result from her fiat.
Knowing Jesus is like that. So, anyway, pray along with Big Daddy Weave and "God bless us, every one," to quote another young man who saw joy even in the bleakest moments.*
*Tiny Tim; see A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
My name is Lynda. I am an author and blogger who volunteers at Lamb of God Maternity Home. I hope to share some thoughts with you here, as well as some of my other entries from my personal blog, Drowning in Lemonade.
My name is Laura, and I am the Program Director at the home. I also respond to all the crisis phone calls that come into our office or on the crisis hotline which is monitored 24/7.