To me, this quote is like a sword of truth cutting right to the heart of relationships. If relationships matter and we want them to prosper and flourish, then we need to be mindful of mercy and forgiveness. But more than that, if I want my relationships to thrive, I must take responsibility for showing mercy. I need to be willing to be the first to forgive. It’s one of those difficult times when actually, it’s all about me and I’d rather it wasn’t!
I’m not implying that I take sole responsibility for everything that occurs in all my relationships – simply that I need to be ready to accept responsibility for my part of those relationships. That if I want to be forgiven, I need to forgive. If I hope to be treated mercifully, then I must choose to be merciful. Whether you believe in God or karma or the universe or whatever – I figure a significant chunk of us (and feel free to correct me if I’m wrong in that assumption) probably believe that we need to exhibit the characteristics we we wish to attract to us. “What comes around goes around.” Yin and yang. The principle of what you give out you get back, or practicing what you preach.
It makes absolute sense to me – but some part of this leaves me with a sense of discomfort – and I think it’s the part about personal responsibility – about the wounded or aggrieved party being the one to show kindness. But that’s not fair! What happened to other people getting what they deserve? And that’s the point – it’s not about getting what we (or they or I) deserve. That’s the point of mercy.
One definition of mercy is ‘compassion or forgiveness shown towards someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm.’ And if a relationship matters, then forgiveness, mercy and compassion all have their own parts to play.
I guess for me it’s not until I get a different perspective that I remember what’s really important. And it’s not my own little wound (that’s probably more of a paper cut) – it’s the relationship that matters.
Regardless of whether I’m guilty of having hurt someone through my words or actions, or whether I’m making the choice to be merciful and forgive, life does seems to revolve around relationships and connections with others. If that’s the case, it’s worth taking a few moments to remember what’s required on my part to be a happy and healthy participant in my relationships.