by Emily Conrad
Mercy has been on the table for about a week now.
I drew the word from my jar of single-word prompts and then did nothing with it.
“What do you want me to put in the bulletin for the free fishing day event?” she asked.
“Oh. Um…” Honestly, I was stalling as I tried to figure out why she was calling to ask. I normally am the one to get in touch, usually in the form of an email that gives the details and wording for the bulletin.
“We only have two Sundays left before it happens,” she said, “so I wanted to be sure we got the word out.”
Wait. What? Just two weeks? We usually start promoting events about a month in advance.
I’m the chair of my church’s Community Committee. We’d planned out a summer of casual events that mostly required us to name a location and an activity. Then we’d all show up and have fun. Easy-peasy.
But in the course of accommodating other events on the church calendar, I’d accidentally scheduled our June event one week after our May event–without even realizing I’d done it. So, when I got this call, I was only thinking about May’s game night.
As I scrambled for my notes and something intelligent to put in the bulletin, I didn’t want to admit I’d dropped the ball (or maybe never even caught it in the first place).
It was tempting to act like I had it together, like I knew exactly when the event was and had a plan to get the word out. I wanted to act like a know-it-all. I wanted to get defensive. I wanted to make excuses. I wanted to rattle off plans for the bulletin and the announcement that showed I had it all together.
Oh, man, how I love to look like I’ve got it together.
The sharp edge of pride ran through all of it.
What an ugly mess it is to save face.
And in the moment, I recognized that.
So, I hesitated to say much of anything. Finally, I admitted it: “I completely forgot this was so soon.”
It was the only thing left to do. Apologize. Ask for help.
And you know what the office coordinator did?
She met me with mercy. She helped me make a plan and put it into action. No blame games, no guilt trips, and perhaps most commendably, no hesitation.
That’s the kind of attitude I want. I don’t want to hesitate to do or say the generous thing. I want words of mercy and love to be the first that come to mind. I want an attitude of grace to be my default, whether I’m the one who dropped the ball or not–since sometimes I go into situations thinking I’m not the one who missed something only to realize that I am.
It’s a learning, growing, walking with Jesus process.
With Jesus, mercy is always on the table, but it’s not meant to be left there, unused.
As I bump along this road toward a more merciful, humble approach to life, I’m glad I have so many around me who teach by example.
People who don’t let mercy sit on the table for a week, untouched.
People who pick it up and pass it on, who find that each time they do, a new supply appears.
I’m glad to find my own supply, sitting in front of me, begging to be shared. Taking it in hand, I survey my relationships and send it out where it belongs.