My brain is not in the least interested in our symposium topic this week. The address for “mercy” + “forgiveness” + “killing” NOT “animals” was not found.
Like any good writer, I hunted around for input, hoping to get some ideas about either mercy or killing. According to my mom friends, every mother’s life “is killing them” about 90% of the time. Husbands without emotion receptors of any kind; children with some kind of olfactory disability that renders them unable to tell that they smell really terrible; family that decides now is a perfect time to go off the deep end and become unnecessarily confusing/helpful/unhelpful/communicative/uncommunicative. These three things I fear, and a fourth makes me quiver with fear. So not much material there that’s uplifting or helpful on “killing.” I killed a bug yesterday, but that wasn’t a big deal since it redounds to the dignity of bugs to be smooshed.
Also according to my mom friends, there is a lot about being a mother that’s tied up with mercy. One said, “I definitely understand God’s relationship to us as Father more than I did before I was a parent. You know, the whole, “making rules that seem stupid to us but are for are own good,” that type of thing. When my kids are in trouble and I’m punishing them, I’m always looking for a way out of it. It’s no fun punishing them so I like to move on to the forgiveness part as quickly as I can…I think God’s always waiting for the teeny tiniest little request for help and mercy and He’ll be right there ready to shower us with it.” So she’s obviously a good mom and has meaningful things to say on mercy. Another said, ” Being merciful somehow goes hand in hand with a good cabernet.” (I have lovely friends.) And that’s an uplifting idea if I’ve ever heard one.
For me, being merciful as a mother is about being just, about only punishing when necessary yet never leaving deserved punishment unadministered. Mercy is not about letting your toddler get away with everything, so that he’ll have chronic temporary happiness. Instead, I know (from experience and from advice) that mercy is about teaching your toddler that getting your own way all the time will make you miserable, exhausted, and quite possibly injured. It is for this reason, my son, I do not allow you to climb the bookshelf. Again. And again. On the other hand, sometimes I have to let him eat cookies for breakfast, since I just did.
So. Happy Mother’s Day, and congratulations to all mothers on living a life that it turns out is largely about mercy, and also partially about feeling like roadkill.
On Killing: Everybody’s tired. Nobody feels really well. Everybody feels like they’re no good at least some of the time. Now please get up and go to work anyway.
On Mercy: Charity believes all things. The good you see in people may not be the whole truth about them, but it is true. So start there, and make a fuss over it until it turns into something more.