Mercy Moments: We Don’t Have to Fix the Whole World

In a revelation to St. Faustina that is recorded in her diary, Jesus said:

“Be always merciful as I am merciful. Love everyone out of love for Me, even your greatest enemies, so that My mercy may be fully reflected in your heart.” (No. 1695)

I want to do that. I want to live that.

But I know that reading these words and feeling inspired in the quiet of my living room early in the morning is one thing, and bringing them into the world with me is another thing altogether. As I slowly work through a re-reading of the diary, I’m slowly working on seeing the world through the lens of God’s mercy.

“I’m sorry,” the cashier said, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand, “I’m a mess right now.”

It was 4:00 AM. Dan and I had stopped at this convenience store for gas and coffee on our way to the airport.

I looked at the young man behind the counter. His eyes were red and swollen. He looked about 20 years old, or maybe just a bit older. Like my kids. “What’s going on?” I asked.

“Family problems,” he sighed. “Someone will be here any minute to take over so I can go home.”

I looked him in the eyes. “I’ll pray for you,” I said.

We don’t always see others’ pain.

At the airport, I was sitting at my gate when a young man approached me and held out his phone. “I don’t think this is a boarding pass,” he said. “Do you see how there’s no barcode on it?”

I did see, but I had no solution for him. I suggested he wait until the gate agent arrived to ask for help. He nodded and then took the seat beside me and talked. And talked. And talked. About his job (he loads trucks for Amazon and doesn’t like it), about Miami (he visited once and would really like to get back there), about how much money he would have saved if he had just rented a car to get back to Newark, but it was raining so hard he really didn’t want to do that.

I wanted to read my book, but I listened instead, thinking about how many people are lost and lonely in the world, looking for a little company and kindness, and how heavy this weighs on my heart sometimes. I also wondered why people tend to talk to me. There were dozens of people at the gate, but he decided to talk to me. This happens a lot. Do I exude a “mom-ness” that lets people know I will listen? About 30 minutes later, he smiled and waved as we boarded the plane.

People just want to be seen.

Hours later, when the plane landed, I turned on my phone and received a text from a person I hadn’t spoken to in a very long time. A couple of years ago, he did something that really hurt me and had not communicated since. In adoration a few days before, though, he came to my mind, and I forgave him again.

Forgiveness is like that, I have learned. It doesn’t always feel great, and it doesn’t always stick, and so bitterness is a recurring temptation. We have to choose forgiveness, and sometimes we have to keep on choosing it, again and again. Before driving home from the church after adoration that day, I decided to text him. “You have been on my heart. I am praying for you today.”

Now, days later, here was his reply. “Thank you for the birthday wishes. I have been thinking of you and praying for you too. May God bless you and your family.”

I had no idea it was his birthday. We never know what God is doing.

“Oh Raquel, the joke’s on him!” Wearing bright pink lipstick and a short, stylish haircut, the woman seated across from me at the next gate waved her hands as she spoke loudly into her phone. Large, gold rings covered many of her fingers, and bracelets clanked and jangled on her wrists.

Her voice was deep, and she spoke with authority. “That’s so David. The joke’s on him, honey, because he thinks he’s doing you a big favor by showing up, but nobody wants him there anyway. You need to move on with your life.”

I wondered about this David and where he was showing up. I wondered if maybe Raquel wanted him there. Nobody was asking my opinion, but I knew it was probably a complicated and painful thing.

I thought of a woman I once knew who was in the throes of an ugly divorce. I had tried to encourage her by telling her it wasn’t her fault. “Oh, this is my fault,” she had corrected me. “Some of this %$#@ is definitely my fault.”

What feels nice is not always the right thing to say. People carry things we don’t see.

Boarding the next flight was taking an unusually long time. We stood, waiting in the aisle, wondering what the hold up was, until the culprit appeared. Grimacing, a woman made her way back up the aisle with a large suitcase.

“It won’t fit,” she told the flight attendant. “I need to check it.”

People groaned as they backed up and crowded into the exit row to let her pass by. “Fantastic,” I heard someone say, and a teen girl rolled her eyes as she stepped beside me. I knew the look and I knew the feeling. I thought of all the times I have rolled my eyes…walking behind a slow person at the supermarket, driving behind a nervous driver, having to repeat something I thought the other person should have heard, or having to explain something I thought the other person should have understood.

There’s a real shortage of patience in the world. Delays or interruptions feel intolerable, and we are always rushing to the next thing. But where are we going so fast, and why?

When we hurry, we don’t see how precious people are.

I often share the story of the life lesson my daughter Gabby gave me years ago when she was about 5 years old. She was tugging at my sleeve as I stood in the kitchen, scrolling through my phone.

“Mama, mama, mama!” she cried.

“Go ahead,” I answered her, not taking my eyes off the screen, “Mama is listening.”

“No, Mama,” she said, “I want you to listen with your eyes.”

Listen with your eyes. The world is hungry for more of that. As daunting as it sometimes feels to bring God’s mercy into a messy world filled with violence, anger, division, and hate, it’s encouraging to consider that God’s mercy is made up of small things, and small things can be very big things to one person at a time.

We don’t have to fix the whole world. We have only to let His mercy be fully reflected in our hearts. One mercy moment at a time.

Jesus, I trust in You!

This post was originally published on and is reprinted here with permission.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

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