When my kids were younger, I was involved in church ministry, working full-time, running them back and forth to school and extracurricular activities, and meeting myself coming and going. My priorities got jumbled up when my “to do” list became too long. I sometimes got so involved in the tasks of the ministry that I forgot about showing kindness and compassion to the persons in my own home and those whom I served.
It took an object lesson on a warm summer afternoon to show me how important kindness and compassion are.
I was crawling around on my hands and knees in my daughter’s bedroom, picking up hundreds of craft beads in a variety of shapes and sizes. That was not what I wanted to be doing with my time.
Almost daily I had instructed her to go to her room and pick up her beads and toys. When it became apparent that she would not do it, I would send her in there with the usual, “Don’t come out until it’s done.”
She would sob, “I can’t do it.” And she didn’t.
The problem was her bead collection had gotten out of control. She collected beads of every imaginable size, shape and color. Beads were scattered everywhere, under the bed, in the carpet, in every nook and cranny of her room. Some she had received them as gifts, and some she had bought with her own money. Now they were all a jumbled mess on her floor.
I thought the answer was to get an organizer for her beads. To help her get started, I began to sort the beads by color into different drawers. Within minutes, I realized I didn’t have the time or patience for that task, either. Tossing the organizer aside, I picked up a large flat covered container that would fit under her bed, and began tossing the beads into the tub.
Now, I did not want to spend my afternoon in her room, doing what I determined was her job. I had not planned to spend my day sorting beads. Yet, tired of the fight and wanting to see the task completed, I continued to work quietly.
My daughter wasn’t even in the room at the time. She was watching TV in the living room. After a little while, she came into her bedroom, and seeing what I was doing, started to help.
As we worked alongside each other, a word popped into my head:
I realized from past experience that God was showing me an object lesson. As I pondered the definition of mercy, I thought of how it meant showing kindness to someone who didn’t really earn it. The beads were my daughter’s mess. She had gotten them all out and played with them, and hadn’t put them away. They were her responsibility. I didn’t have to help her.
In that moment, I came to understand her absolute hopelessness when she looked at the mess in her room. She was overwhelmed with the thought of putting things in order. Thought I wanted to vacuum up the whole lot of them and toss them into the trash, I understood how much that would hurt her. Her beads were important to her.
Her beads had been intended as a blessing, and now they had become a burden. My love for her made me want to help her make sense out of her mess.
As we worked together, I realized how that is like God’s mercy towards me. I often became overwhelmed with the responsibilities of caring for my home and family. When I added to that the additional responsibilities of church ministry, I felt like I was in “over my head.” I hadn’t always prayed things through before volunteering to do something. At other times, the tasks proved to be beyond my capabilities. And there were times when I was capable of completing the task, but didn’t have time to do it.
Just like my daughter with her collection of beads, I had my hands full of activities that had become jumbled and disorganized. I felt overwhelmed, and wanted to abandon everything. When I couldn’t run from it, I procrastinated, but the work piled up. What was meant to be a blessing became a burden.
That’s where Mercy stepped in.
With kindness and compassion, my Heavenly Father began His work of sorting through my troubled mess. Even though my mess was my responsibility, He didn’t hold that against me. His love for me moved Him to help me make sense of my circumstances. He opened my eyes to possibilities and helped me prioritize my time. He gave me the courage to ask for help or delegate some responsibilities to others.
When I saw the circumstances start to change, I felt a peace and a hope settle over my heart and mind. My focus changed, and I found the energy to accomplish my tasks.
Fellow Christian author, Christina Sinisi, recently wrote an article that really resonated with me. “Why You Shouldn’t Get Involved” is the title of her article. This link will take you to an e-magazine, Faith on Every Corner. Her article is on page 46-47.
The object lesson I learned that day in my daughter’s room gave me a sense of how wonderful God’s mercy is. Because He has shown mercy to me and helped me, I am able to help others and show them kindness and compassion. He helps me keep my priorities straight so that my life is organized and no longer out of control.