Tuesday 25 Oct 2016

Mercy Me
M Adam Roberts

It's a quarter to three. I can't sleep. I'm tossing and turning.

I've been lying in bed for hours, tossing and turning. It will soon be time to go to work. I haven't even been to sleep, yet.

I'm exhausted. I need to rest. I can't.

There's something bothering me. It won't go away, no matter how hard I try to put it out of my mind. I'm in a trap.

I don't know how to end what I feel. I'm upset. So upset, it's keeping me awake.

What am I going to have to do to solve the problem? What will it take find peace? How can I escape my trap?

Yesterday's gone. I can't have it back. Things will never be the same. It's sad.

I've been feeling this way for months. I'm horribly upset about something someone did to me almost a half year ago. Someone close to me did it. It was someone I love and care for very much. Someone I trusted. That's what makes it hurt so bad.

How could this person do me that way? I'm in shock. I can't believe it happened. It's left me paralyzed both physically and emotionally. I'm hardly able to function because of it.

I must do something. Something I don't want to do. I honestly don't want to do it. I don't feel like I should have to. I'm not the one who caused all this hurt in the first place. All I've done is attempt to love and care for this person. I get such thanks.

Why do I always have to be the one to make peace with those who do me wrong? Why's it always left up to me to have to make things right again?

I'm really struggling with having to be the one to make peace this time. I'm really feeling hurt over how I was treated and I need a heart-felt apology from the person who did this to me. That's all there is to it.

I don't want just any kind of an apology. I want a tears rolling down the face, falling down on the knees, begging for forgiveness apology. That's what I need to make me feel better. Nothing else will do, but I know such an apology will never come.

Since I know I'll never receive the kind of apology I need and deserve, I believe this person deserves to suffer for what she did. Why should she get off the hook so easily? Why should I have to suffer all this hurt alone when she goes on feeling no pain or remorse whatsoever, spreading lies about me, and acting as if I had done her wrong somehow?

I demand justice concerning this matter. I want her to suffer and feel miserable just like I do now. She's the one who caused all this. Why should I have to suffer and she not? She deserves severe punished, for doing me the way she did. It's not right that she get away with it without even an apology.

A short while ago I read an essay written by a young woman who had been abused as a child. I instantly related to the opening sentence of her letter, which read like this, "Sometimes life can be a punch in the face. I'm not talking about just any punch in the face. Sometimes that punch can come from your own mother."

Although her circumstance and hurts were different from my own, I completely understood what she was saying, and how she was feeling, when she wrote that essay. I didn't understand, wholly. I was darn close, though.

After several months now of feeling deeply hurt over this situation, I've finally gotten over it. We are at peace, with one another.

I finally found the strength to go to her and forgive her for the way she treated me. Actually, I never even mentioned the incident upon our meeting again, not even unto this day. I just let it go, because having a peaceful and loving relationship with her is more important to me than being right, or receiving a tear-filled apology that proves that I am right. I know she knows what she did was wrong, and I know she loves and cares for me despite her actions towards me that day. If she's not ready or able to talk about it right now, that's ok. I don't want her to suffer anymore. I freely release her of her debt to me.

So what caused the big change in my heart towards her? How did I suddenly go from wanting her to suffer and die for what she did, to feeling great love and compassion towards her? It came to me one night as I was lying in bed praying.

"Who on this earth, other than a small, innocent child, has never done anybody wrong? Who hasn't done wrong even dozens, if not hundreds, or thousands of times?" I know I surely have.

"Oh, what a wretched man am I."

How many times have I ever went to a person I have wronged and fell down on my knees before them, crying out a heart-felt apology, begging for their forgiveness? I can't remember once instance.

Thinking back on the thousands of times throughout my life when I have erred, I remember myself feeling so ashamed for what I had done. At that moment, I hated myself and just wished I could die.

I recall asking myself, "What's wrong with you. What were you thinking? Are you insane? You know better than that. Why do you keep doing things like this again? Are you ever going to learn? Are you ever going to straight up and fly right? Don't you care about how you're hurting all your loved ones around you? How can you be so selfish and uncaring?"

These are only a few of the questions I would shout out at myself as I reflected back upon what I had done.

I wasn't able, at that time, to go to anybody and admit my wrong, let alone beg for her or his forgiveness. I hated myself too much at that moment, and all I wanted to do was go to sleep and try to forget that it ever happened. The following day, I hoped maybe, we could forget the transgression. I surely didn't want to bring it up again. I just wanted to forget about it, and I hoped that everyone else would too. I prayed that, somehow, maybe those I had hurt and disappointed would have compassion on me and not judge me too harshly. Mostly, I hoped that no one would find out or hear about it at all.

I needed another chance. I needed a clean slate. I secretly prayed I would get it.

I remember sitting in judgment of myself, hundreds and hundreds of times over the years, shaking my head back and forth in shame and disgust with myself, softly praying, "Have mercy on me. Have mercy on me. Oh, Lord. Please have mercy on me. Change my heart and give me strength that I may never hurt myself or anyone else like this again."

As I prayed, I would further reflect on how many countless times, over the span of my lifetime, that I've had to ask for undeserved forgiveness. With great relief and tear-filled eyes, full of tremendous appreciation, I've seen it granted unto me every single time I asked for it.

I recall the countless times I fell asleep barely having enough strength to mumble a prayer mercy, exhausted from the grief in my heart and the sickness in my body. All I could hope for was that tomorrow would be a better day; a day that I might be strong and bring no harm to myself or anyone else.

Considering all this, whom would I be not to offer the same compassion on those who have offended me? Mercy, to me, is different from forgiveness. Forgiveness is the pardoning of one's offenses by another.

Mercy goes deeper than forgiveness, in my opinion. Mercy feels compassion, even pity, regarding the weaknesses of others. Mercy is not only willing to forgive the offender for his or her error, but it also seeks to understand the pain or suffering that soul might be enduring that caused such person to fall into weakness. At the same time, knowing that he or she is no better or worse of a person, for falling short, than anybody else is, including ones self.

There was a time years ago when I was dating a young woman much younger than myself. I was upset about a member in my family who had a drinking problem. I told my date how much I wanted to tell this person off, and just let her know how much she was hurting the whole family by staying drunk all the time. The young woman took me by the hand, feeling my pain, and said very compassionately, "Do you think she doesn't know that?"

She was telling me that it was not harsh judgment that this person needed to help her change. It was love, patience and mercy she needed.

There's a story in the bible where twelve men, seeking to live righteously, were furious concerning the behaviors of some of the others that lived around them. They asked the teacher, whom they followed, "How many times are we supposed to forgive these people for doing these wicked things they are doing...seven times?

The teacher looked at them with eyes full of great compassion and said, "Seventy times seven."

How any times has it taken you to get it right?

I don't know about you, but I'm still working on it.

M Adam Roberts lives and writes from Clearwater, Florida.

More by M Adam Roberts:
Tell a Friend

Click above to tell a friend about this article.

Please report typos or corrections
to the editor