26 Nov Learning to Show Grace and Mercy

Grace and Mercy

By Jon Johansen

As I work on this column, I am sporting a black, left eye.  In addition, my lower jaw is sore, and my lip is stitched.

No, I’m not in a “school counseling fight club.” The real source of these injuries?  I’ll be happy to share… albeit a bit later in this column.  For starters I’ll just state that it’s funny how life has a way of regularly humbling me.

For example, after helping come up with my school’s theme for November—“Jesus showed grace and mercy”—I received not one, but two chances to display forgiveness to others.  Only,

Rather than “putting my money where my mouth is,” I had to act kindly when others put their elbows where my face is.  How so?  On a recent Friday morning, at a local basketball pick-up game, one of my own teammates, for Pete’s sakes, ripped down a rebound and nailed my left eye socket.

Although I flinched, and checked for blood, I was blessed to experience an emotional victory when I… stayed absolutely calm!  In fact, by God’s grace I didn’t even complain about it.  When you know my past, and my heritage, that’s saying something.

It should be noted that my mom is a stereotypically feisty-yet-loving Irishwoman and my dad’s ancestors are crazy Vikings!  I thank God, then, that I didn’t pick-up a metaphorical Norsk battle-axe and try to get even on the hardwood court.  Unfortunately, my black eye wasn’t the last injury I’d endure.

Just yesterday, when I inexplicably tried to take a charge in a meaningless basketball game, a 6’3’, 255 pound man led his way down the lane with his meaty arm-hinge.  I’m blessed to report that, when I first felt the warm blood flowing down my chin, I didn’t feel rage; rather, I mysteriously felt tranquil!

To his credit, the fella who injured me said “sorry.” I accepted his apology and told him that it was “no big deal.”  Just like *that,* we moved on.  In fact, we played two more games.

A couple of hours later, when the good folks at Urgent Care (thank you Jessica and Alyssa!), pointed out that I’d bitten all the way through the skin under my lip—and commenced to deftly stitch me shut—I also felt “it” again, that elusive sense of Peace.

As I think about my “take-aways” from this experience, three things come to mind:

1)   Perhaps I should no longer try so hard to win random pick-up games,

2)   By Heaven’s grace, I am no longer the “eye for an eye” Irish/Norseman I used to be, and…

3)   It felt good (deeply, truly satisfying) to show others mercy.  I liked it.

Wanna do it more.

How ‘bout you?

Who are you feeling led to forgive?

Why not prayerfully begin the healing process today (if nothing else than for our children’s sake)?

As a wise pastor once told me, staying bitter at someone is like drinking poison, and expecting the offender to die.  I, for one, wish to be around for a lonnng time.

That, and, I don’t want to look like I’ve been in a bar fight.