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Reclaiming Mercy

Humans of New York posts always grab my attention. 

The photographs and short stories of  Brandon Stanton help me see through the eyes of people whose religion; ethnicity; sexuality; choices or circumstances are different to my own. Through his work he peels off layers of bias and prejudice like grubby bandages, and reveals people in a way that is closer to the way I believe God sees us--loved and precious regardless of what we've done or who we are--because he knows the whole story...

Currently Brandon is telling the stories of inmates from five different prisons across the North eastern United States. Often the stories are heartrending, but the face and story from February 8, stayed with me longer than usual:

The words, "honest people like you," resonated, maybe because they could apply to me. And in a plight as desperate as hers, mightn't I have responded with the same naivete? I don't know, because I haven't experienced such poverty and desperation.

It must have been playing on my mind, because this morning I woke up with the vestiges of a wacky and disturbing dream in my consciousness. I had been given an illegal substance by someone who offered me a business opportunity to make some money. They left it with me while I decided. I hadn't been quick enough to say, "No thank you,"and was now "in possession."

Stuck with this greenish brown substance, I felt trapped, desperate and afraid. The people who'd given me the drugs knew I could identify them and I knew they would apply pressure to gain compliance. I hid the drugs in pie boxes and the last thing I remember was kneeling down and stuffing the pie boxes under a hedge...I was so grateful to wake up and know it was just a dream.  

Thinking about how easy it is to judge, I find it's a daily discipline to stay open to mercy and kindness. I don't like judgmentalism but ironically I find myself judging those who judge.

Jesus Christ loved the outcast and the different, and they sought him out and were comfortable with him. I believe he would love Humans of New York for what it accomplishes; the tenderness and compassion it inspires.

Today I read about the "Royal Rule," in the book of James. Far from being a rule of iron, it tells me that I need to love others as I love myself, and that I am to, "talk and act like a person expecting to be judged by the Rule that sets us free." Our stance towards our fellow man matters. We should be scared when we find ourselves harsh, because the harshness with which we judge others is how we can expect to be judged. 

James 2:13New International Version (NIV)

13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment.


irysh68 said…
what if you don't love yourself?
Belinda Burston said…
Dear Friend, that's a profoundly important question. It starts by knowing that you are deeply and passionately loved by God. Nothing, nothing, nothing, can stop his deep love for you--nothing you have done, or think you are. He adores you. That's the starting point, and I'm breathing a prayer for you today, that you will open yourself to receive that love and believe that you're worth it.
It's a daily discipline to stay open to mercy... amen to that! The pope, who I have real difficulties with, asked people to give up indifference this lent. I like that idea! Stay open to mercy and give up the impulse to indifference.
Belinda Burston said…
All I can say Dave is, "Yes!!" I think I understand why you might have problems with the pope. Is it because he hasn't had the courage of what seemed to be his convictions? I felt so much hope when he said, "Who am I to judge?" and wish he had clung to that thread. Maybe you're thinking about something completely different though. I'm interested to know.
Powerful reminder to all of us ... so grateful for the mercy of God! Thank you Belinda.
Belinda Burston said…
Amen dear friend! Me too.

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