Mercy is defined as “compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.” Showing compassion for others and forgiveness can help lift your spirits. The act of forgiveness takes the power away from negative thoughts and emotions. Being mistreated or getting in to a fight can eat away at your spirits. When you forgive someone or show them mercy for their behavior, you’ve lightened both your loads.
Mercy is one of the greatest gifts we can give, other than love. Or maybe it is a byproduct of love. We show compassion when our friends and family are in need. We do it when we volunteer our time to help those who need it. We do it when we donate clothes and money. When you give that homeless guy your extra pair of gloves.
And, boy oh boy does it hurt when someone we know is the opposite of merciful. When they can’t find it in themselves to show some compassion.
Last year, the day after my spinal cord stimulator replacement, I received a text message from someone that I had thought was a friend. Her birthday was the day of my surgery, and I did not text, call or write on her Facebook wall to wish her a happy birthday on her birthday (I didn’t completely forget it, we had gone out a couple weeks before for a birthday party). On the actual day, I was a bit preoccupied with having major surgery. No food after midnight, be at the hospital at 4:45 am, wrap up a gazillion projects, make sure iPad is charged.
My world was focused on one goal – getting through surgery and not developing new CRPS pain.
I was hurt. Angry. Disappointed. How could she not see that I needed to focus on me? How could she not cut me some slack for being sick? Sure, I should have wished her a happy birthday on the day. But I forgot. Simple as that. These things happen. I surely didn’t deserve such a biting text. The anger on my side started to fester.
I hung on to that pain for weeks. It hung on to me. The more she tried to tell me how I was wrong for forgetting her birthday, the more I withdrew. The stronger the hold my anger had over me got.
Our friendship was in shambles, and I was so hurt, I had absolutely no desire to speak to her. I hated her for not showing me mercy. Her lack of compassion hit me like a freight train full of betrayal.
Eventually, I realized I had power in this situation too. I realized that I could forgive her for not understanding my condition. For not having compassion for my pain. For not forgiving me for a forgotten birthday wish.
And while I never want to repair that friendship, I have forgiven her for the things she said because I had the power. Even if she couldn’t show mercy, I can.