Mercy

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Mercy.

And no I’m not goin all Uncle Jesse on you.
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🙂

And I’m not referring to various hospitals around the country, either.

I’m talking about the Year of Mercy.

It doesn’t matter if you’re Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, a “none,” or someone just searching for hope and goodness in the world…I think we can all agree: Pope Francis is a pretty strong cultural figure.

He’s kind of known as a “radical” pope, in that some of what he’s said has been picked up by the mainstream media – for being boundary pushing and a catalyst for change: aka the people’s pope.

But one thing’s for sure: he is sharing some pretty provocative messages with the world.

And in case you haven’t heard, he’s dubbed 2016 the Year of Mercy.

And I was doing a lot of reflecting about this recently.

Mercy is something that I feel like, I know what it is, but I can’t really define it. Like, I can explain it in feelings or Italian-esq hand motions, but ask me to pin down the stone cold definition, and I’m SOL.

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So I consulted my good old friend, Merriam Webster.

Mercy: “Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm; Kindness or forgiveness towards an offender.”

Forgiveness towards an offender.

Now, obviously, we all know that God is merciful. I mean, we sing it every Sunday in one way or another: “The Lord is kind and merciful.” “Lord, have mercy.” Etc. You get the drift.

And He is.

Micah 7:18 “God…who removes guilt…delights in mercy.”

That gentle image brings me to my knees every time I think about it.

And let me be clear: I’m not brushing that off, or down playing that in any way, shape, or form. In fact, mercy expresses the height of His power to do all things: to freely forgive us. And it is the most excellent work of His love. But in this Year of Mercy, I want to challenge myself to have a shift in perspective.
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Again, it’s obvious that we should show mercy to others, right? Forgive those who do wrong to you. Comfort the brokenhearted and alone. Give to the poor. Again…got it.

But I was thinking about it, and what about showing ourselves mercy?

Maybe that’s really self-absorbed of me to again bring myself into the equation. But if I’m being really honest, I myself need mercy, not only from God, but also from myself.

“Compassion, kindness, or forgiveness shown towards an offender.”

RealTalk: I am an offender.

My anorexia was an offense against my body. My soul. My spirit. Who I am, at my innermost being. This human -me- created by God. It was an attack against my personhood, that manifested itself in withholding the very basics needed for life. I was guilty of that. An offender.


But if I carry around guilt and shame about it, I’m actually denying myself mercy. The mercy already given to my by Jesus on the cross. I’m holding a grudge against myself for actions that have been completely forgiven by God. So how can I not offer that same forgiveness – that same mercy — to myself?

Maybe you haven’t struggled with an eating disorder, but we all have things in our past that haunt us. That we carry around. That we struggle(d) with: gossiping; fidelity; cheating on tests; addictions of various kinds – whether to drugs, alcohol, or online shopping – laziness, out of control anger. We all have things that make us offenders. And this isn’t some “pot calling the kettle” thing. Because the Good Lord knows I’m guilty – an offender – of a whole hell of a lot.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that after a year of truly meaningful progress in my recovery (thanks to the Big Guy), that the Pope would come out and tout 2016 as the Year of Mercy. It’s like a subtle jab to the ribs that, “Oh hey, just in case you forget that you’ve been forgiven by God for your eating disorder/[insert-struggle-here] and all the horrendous crap that went along with it…I’m just reminding you to show that same mercy and forgiveness towards yourself…because you’re worth it.

 

The Year of Mercy.

We have been the recipients of incredible mercy. Now it’s our turn. The time to show compassion. Forgiveness. Kindness. Is now. To all the offenders in our lives. Especially ourselves.



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beautybeyondbones

BBB: Because we're all recovering from something. // For speaking/business inquiries: beautybeyondbones@yahoo.com

171 thoughts on “Mercy

  1. Absolutely! Hooray! Yes to all that you wrote!!! When I think of mercy and forgiveness, I remember that in the Bible, God always forgives before we even ask for forgiveness. In the story of the prodigal son, the father ran out and embraced the son before the son even spoke a word. I also think that God exists outside of time, beyond time. I am already forgiven. I just need to say, “Yes!” To accept that forgiveness. To accept that God loves me THAT much. To accept that I am worthy. If I deny myself forgiveness, I am really denying God, when it comes down to it. If I can’t forgive myself, how am I to forgive others. May we all increase in love and mercy each day! Thank you for your beautiful writing! ❤️

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    1. Thank you so much Lulu! You are so right. So much truth here. I absolutely love the story of prodigal son. The way the father runs and is watching and waiting for the sons return. How comforting. Yes, here’s to a 2016 full of love and mercy xx.

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  2. This brought tears to my eyes. Thank you for putting it into words that touch so many regardless of their struggles. Also, thank you for the reminder that while we are called to extend mercy to others as He has extended mercy to us, we must also extend mercy to ourselves!

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  3. What a thought-provoking post. My mind is tossing around all sorts of responses. On one hand, God forgives us and wipes the slate clean and we also need to acknowledge that and move on. Yet, we still take ourselves with us and and so we all have weaknesses in one area or another so to move forward from such areas in our lives, we also need to act and make concrete changes going forward. This is as much in what we say about ourselves as what we do.
    I live with a severe, life-threatening auto-immune disease which comes and goes in a nd out of remission. When I am well, like now, most people wouldn’t know. My kids both start new schools this year and I have to decide how much of this to share in these new communities. I am actually thinking of keeping quiet. Maybe just providing a letter to the school but leaving it at that. I have a disabled parking permit and people get a suprise at times when they see me with a walking stick but I’ve decided that its okay to step out there and leave most of that in the past. I am not healed but in a sense I am.
    I hope there will come a time in your journey where you’re know this sense of release. Perhaps, you’re already there.
    I really do believe that healing is a partnership with God. Sometimes, he might do it all but I do think we’re called on to be responsible and proactive.
    Love & God Bless,
    Rowena

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    1. Hi Rowena! Thank you so much for thus beautiful reflection. You have so much wisdom my goodness! I love that idea of a partnership. So true. God will strengthen us to put in work ourselves in addition to His work. And thanks for sharing about your journey with an ai disease. I also have an ai disease: ulcerative colitis so I can definitely relate that it’s an unseen condition that comes and goes. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs!

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      1. You’re welcome. I do a lot of thinking and reading…pondering!
        I’m sorry to hear you have ulcerative colitis. I know a few people with that and it can be quite nasty. My daughter has gastroparesis or delayed gastric emptying and so doesn’t feel hungry, doesn’t eat, doesn’t put on weight. I also read the anorexia can cause her disease, so I’ve been thinking that not eating makes it worse and I think I’m on the right track. I’ve also found she had troubles with some foods and has issues with texture so we are becoming better informed and she’s a much healthier weight.
        The other thing I’d like to share with you is the need for balance and a creative person and high achieving performer. My grandmother was a child prodigy pianist and I’ve pasted her obituary for you. http://www.smh.com.au/comment/obituaries/a-musical-career-honed-in-the-laundry-20090823-ev2w.html
        What no one tells you is that all those hours and hours of practice and focus, can also affect your health and you need to take a holistic view. If you go too far one direction, you need to counter-balance it the other way. I am quite conscious of this with my daughter who is going to a selective primary school class this year with all the pressure of tutoring as well as her dance and drama lessons. She still needs a childhood and that yin and yang. Both my kids do Scouts, which I think helps with that.Get out in the bush. Go camping. I have stumbled across this but I have seen a few casualties of extremes. I am naturally extreme myself in terms of my writing but since I’ve had my kids, I’ve been forced to toe the line. My husband is also very practical. Gets onto me. Extends me as well. I recently found out that Charles Dickens was writing some of his novels simultaneously and had an incredible output but he would go for exceptionally long walks which I was told was a kind of self-treatment.
        This is just me stacking up stories along the road but given what you your background, I thought I should share my observations. A friend of mine who is an artist agreed 100%
        Anyway, hope you have a great day!
        Love & God Bless,
        Rowena

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      2. Thank you so much for this response! You’re right a ting and a yang is definitely definitely important. And I also had gastroparseis simultaneously with the anorexia. Apple cider vinegar is a miracle liquid. Literally improved my gastroparseis. Just take 1 Tbsp before meals of the raw ACV. Hope that helps! Thanks again for all your insight! I love reading your wisdom and insight!

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      3. Thanks very much and I will try that Apple cider vinegar.
        I hope my insights help. I have been through a lot and met a lot of people on the road, as well as coming from a creative family and seen how that’s panned out. I really feel a very strong need to reach out to people where I can and it’s a big part of why I blog. I am working towards writing some motivational memoir type books but just when I thought I’d conquered my mountain, I caught pneumonia, had chemo and didn’t know if I was going to pull through. That slowed things right down but I now realise that this up and down trajectory is more real. Honest. Take care xx Rowena

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      4. Thanks. I’m doing well now. In remission. Down to 7.5 mg prednisone daily, which I think you’ll know what that means. I’m stepping out into this new year with cautious confidence and faith. Thanks for your prayers and I send mine back for you too. 2016 is a new beginning! xx Rowena

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      5. Oh prednisone. Yes that dirty beast. I know it all too well. Praise God that you’re in remission! Thank you for the prayers. I will definitely keep you in mine as well. I like that. Cheers to a new beginning! ❤️❤️❤️

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  4. Wine, I love all of your images. I was trying to download them into my inspiration file but it didn’t work . You’ve got some really great ones here .

    I’m really impressed with this pope as well . My mother is an Episcopal priest . I didn’t know anything about this pope but I had a dream that there was a really huge conference with all sorts of bishops end lots of tables set up for eating , while the pope walked away from all his bigwigs and sat down at the edge next to my mother with his tray of food and said we are all priests . I woke up wondering what was going on , a pope that recognized an Episcopalian woman priest as his equal ? He had such humility but also strength of character , based on the dream I just really like him .

    Having to learn self compassion has been maybe the hardest struggle in my truck my recovery . It is so hard when you blame yourself for things that aren’t your fault . You didn’t have any other coping skills or resources when you became anorexic . It’s not your fault that you committed horrible acts against your body , most people do it every day with what they eat . What’s amazing is that you decided to find another way . I tell people that my only criteria for who I will have in my life is if they have problems they don’t deal with and make them my problems or if they have problems which they are healing and we can be supportive towards each other , not rescuing but being able to validate what is wholesome and help us not get caught in those self-defeating thoughts that come from shame .

    I think that to really do that sort of recovery just like to do any activism that really changes the world over an extended period of time , and I firmly believe that recovery is activism because you are changing the world by changing yourself , and the personal is political , and it is a very radical act to let go of shame , to do any of this work requires being able to turn things over to some sort of higher power because otherwise it’s too overwhelming . The longer you recover and see yourself change and find ways to make that change affect the world , I think you really start to see the divine in action and begin to have faith.

    Having self compassion or what you might call Mercy , it is a choice and for some reason it can be incredibly scary to choose to forgive yourself especially for things that at the time you didn’t really have any other option , so there isn’t even that much to forgive because it’s not your fault , we do what we can with what we have , and some of us decide that those things are too constricting and we have to do be like a hermit crab and run out of our tight little shell and trust that will find one bigger .

    Yet there is that feeling of perhaps I will be punished if I am self compassionate , that’s what I struggle with . The wasp work ethic doesn’t help . Perfectionism doesn’t help either . Meanwhile I can find all sorts of reasons to forgive and even excuse the horrible behavior of those who abused me ! They had horrible childhoods or they were addicted to something , it’s so easy to see it from their point of view , and so hard for some reason to see my own point of view and validate that and part of that is my innocence . Underneath it all we are innocent .

    My mother says the resurrection happens every time someone reclaims the fact that they are innocent . When they stop carrying these burdens around better lies about being bad . Once you can let go of that core belief that you are somehow bad in some way the resurrection happens . Aisleways thought that was a really beautiful way of interpreting the resurrection happening in every day life . There isn’t any God I know of who wants you to hate yourself . There are maybe nasty little critters who might feed on self-loathing , who knows if that’s what demons are something , but as far as anything divine , anyone who is filled with self-loathing or shame will never really be able to Amberes the divine so of course the divine doesn’t want us to be consumed with shame.

    I’m using really awful dictation on my Kindle so I know this is kind of hard to read . There’s a lot of woodsmoke making me sick right now . I just wanted to let you know that it’s nice to hear that other people struggle with this to , especially someone who has been in anorexia recovery for so long end seems to have it all together , if that makes any sense. I guess we keep revisiting different things that keep us from the divine .

    I lived in Los Angeles, I read tarot cards to quite a lot of celebrity types , and I really couldn’t tell who was anorexic and who was just naturally a size 0 . I have seen actresses who say they had eating disorders now on TV and they look freakishly bony . The girl who was on the show Reba whose first name is Scarlett , her work covered from anorexia photos look very anorexic. And the actress married to Ellen who was someone who almost died from anorexia again looks like a skeleton . But she’s better ?

    How do you handle living in Los Angeles where the norm is anorexia especially if you are an actress ? I can look at Heidi Klum and say that she actually has muscle and that is her natural body type , but that’s not very often what a human being looks like naturally . It’s really hard to be incredibly skinny and look healthy . Courtney Cox is so tiny I know people who have worked with her are almost afraid , but she’s not frail or anorexic, she just really does have arms that then .

    I was really surprised at how many very beautiful women I met in Los Angeles who hated everything about how they look . If they lived in Ohio they’d be supermodels . And these women aren’t actresses or performers, it was just the norm for living in Los Angeles to be a size 2 no matter what you do as a job !

    So I wondered about how when you’re in a culture where your agent will teach you how to vomit you are able to stay true to your recovery ? Most people I know who are actresses or dancers were taught how to be bulimic by a teacher and they took up chain-smoking and cocaine to avoid food . Everybody smokes in Los Angeles , at least if they are actresses it seemed like . The body hatred culture of Los Angeles towards women by women and men was one reason I hated living there .

    If you are in the industry, you are in the belly of the beast of body image and body loathing issues . That makes it even more remarkable what you’re doing , because it’s like a recovering alcoholic living in a bar .

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    1. Hi Heather, thank you so much for your thoughtful reflection! you’re right, although I don’t live in LA, NYC is just as rough when it comes to body image. The acting industry itself is very image obsessed, and so I have to keep my focus on how God sees me: He sees my heart. Anyway, I love your thoughts about how we should just let the past and the guilt go and be free and reclaim innocence. What a beautiful sentiment. Thankfully there is abundant mercy to be found. Again, thank you for your insight and reflection. Sending love and prayers to you on your journey! hugs, my friend! xoxo

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  5. As an actor, I suppose you are familiar with the idea of opposites; if what you’re doing doesn’t work, try the polar opposite. Allow me to offer you an opposite idea on mercy and forgiveness toward self. Only God can do that. We can’t do this for ourselves. The challenge is ACCEPTING God’s mercy and forgiveness, not providing it to ourselves. Try this post I wrote in 2014 and see what you think. https://jeffreyhking.wordpress.com/2014/05/22/the-memory-warehouse/

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