By Maria Koshute
I don't know about you, but I am often tempted to compare myself with others. It could be as vain as comparing my looks or my talents with others - or it could be a little deeper, like comparing myself with the amount of volunteer work or generosity of others.
I think this comparison game plagues many of us, and social media has only exacerbated the occasions for this.
I often think to myself "I wish I had more energy so I could do X for more people." "I wish I had more money so I could give X to this person." "I wish I had more time so I could volunteer with Y."
I begin to compare myself with what others are doing, and also comparing myself with what I think I should be capable of doing…if only I had it all together!
This morning I had a bit of an epiphany. It was like the Lord said "You have been given everything you need to show mercy in the way I desire.”
For some of us, that might mean a lot of activities: reaching many people, volunteering at a youth group, going on a mission trip. For others it might simply mean loving your husband and children by devoting your time, energy and love to them. It might mean reaching out to your roommate or coworkers in an intentional way through the simple gesture of sitting down with them and asking them how there day was.
For me, I get caught up sometimes in discouragement from an inability to "do" things that I think (very likely) were not something I was needing to do in the first place. Surely there are SO many ways we can get involved, we can bless people, we can give of ourselves. But don't measure your mercy in the ability to fulfill all of these things. Measure your mercy in your faithfulness to love the people that God has put right in front of you. That doesn't have to be grandiose either. It could simply mean a smile, a listening ear, a hug.
But perhaps the person we most need to show mercy is even closer to us than that. Perhaps one of the deepest and fundamental calls the Lord has for us is the call to show mercy to is ourselves. Sometimes showing ourselves mercy is the hardest person to show mercy to. A wise priest at a retreat once said "We have to beg Christ for the Mercy to love ourselves." That has really stuck with me over the past decade. We need the mercy to love ourselves as Christ loves us - we are the Father's beloved creation and sometimes we ourselves are the last people to acknowledge that and believe it.
We will find the ways He wants us to show mercy not by looking at what those around us are doing - not even by looking at the unrealistic standards or protocols we have devised for ourselves. We will only find these authentic invitations by looking deeply into our Savior's merciful eyes. It is there He will reveal to us the mercy that we need to experience, and the mercy that we need to share.
"Let Jesus look at you. Place yourselves within the gaze of Jesus and welcome this gaze that looks at you peacefully and calmly, that loves you and sees your deepest identity. Jesus, who looks at us with hope and who, in looking at us, loves us, heals us, and purifies us....Let us take these moments to look at Jesus with faith and most of all, to welcome his gaze and allow ourselves to be healed by it, to be healed of all of our discouragements, all the ways in which we feel guilty, our worries, maybe our shame. This gaze of Jesus can heal everything in us; it can purify and renew everything in our hearts." - Fr. Jacques Philippe, Real Mercy.