TURN YOUR EYES OF MERCY TOWARD ME: by Rachel Oberman-Magnificat
MERCY DOES not come easily to me, as it frequently contradicts my desire for human justice. As a wife and mother, I have often felt myself to be deficient in this virtue. I asked a friend whom I consider to be merciful how one acquires a greater fund of mercy. She said that by discerning God’s mercy in our own lives we become able to bestow it more freely on others. This stumped me at first, as I tend to take for granted God’s mercy, placing more emphasis on the places where my sense of justice is offended.
That week, in fact, I was very angry at my husband. I knew I was acting unreasonably yet I clung to my resentment. I was looking for God’s mercy but finding instead only reasons to be aggrieved. I said something rude, but instead of reacting, my husband said nothing. He looked at me with a tenderness that I recognized for the first time as God’s mercy in my life. He said that I looked tired and asked if he could help. I felt that he was looking at me as God does, accepting my limits and loving me nonetheless. I was filled with a new awareness of a gift freely given and I understood for perhaps the first time that I need mercy at precisely the moments when I feel most self-righteous. Seeing God’s mercy in my husband’s eyes increases my desire to look on others with that same tender gaze. (Rachel Oberman lives in Brooklyn with her husband and five daughters. She is an adjunct professor of English at New York City College of Technology.)