The things that wake me in the middle of the night and make me writhe with shame are never memories of things I did that were actually wrong. Generally speaking, they’re memories of moments in which I made a fool of myself.
It’s easier to forgive myself for having done something wrong than for making myself look stupid.
Clearly, there’s a lesson in there about pride, but there’s also a truth about mercy. Namely, mercy begins with me.
I don’t know about you, but I hold myself to higher standards than I hold anyone else. I am willing to overlook certain foibles—not all, mind you, but some—in other people, but I lash myself for those same faults. This is not entirely bad, of course. I have a healthy examination of conscience going at any given time, and I value the constant tug from within to become a better person–less annoying, easier to work with–than I was yesterday.
On the other hand, how can I open my heart to others–how can I enter into their chaos; how can I offer mercy, compassion and forgiveness to them–when I have hardened my heart against myself? If I can’t find it in my heart to give mercy to the person in the world I understand best, how can I hope to give it to people whose perspectives and experiences I cannot understand at all?
I have no answers to these questions. They are food for thought for me today, and so I offer them to you as well.
For other Mercy on a Monday posts, click here.