My hands bent back and  I knew I was in trouble. I felt her fingernails dig into the flesh on the backs of my hands. Teeth gritted, I tried to smile.  “I will not lose.” I said to my stubborn elementary school self. In truth- It was probably like that time during the Becky Thatcher look-alike context-when I thought I was whispering without moving my mouth- and my whole head was scrunched up in a look that would have scared a zombie. A moment that was- of course- captured forever in a local paper. (Seriously. It’s in my scrapbook. No, I won’t show you. And no- I didn’t win. Apparently, Becky Thatcher was a bit more pleasant than me as a child.)  Regardless, I held my ground. NO MERCY.

For a moment, my opponent wavered.  I pressed her hands down and back….secretly wishing my mom hadn’t made me trim my nails before school.I pinched. I pressed. I held my breath. I twisted her wrists trying to sprain them …..I was evil like that. We all were.I held my ground. For a minute. Then- In a sudden upset that left crescent shaped slices in the tops of my hands- I lost. (Most likely because of my lack of nails. Thanks, Mom. :P)

Or, maybe because of my weak wrists.

It was certainly not because I’d shown mercy. I hadn’t. However, in the end-  I had begged for it. “Mercy! Mercy!” My pre-pubescent self screeched. My opponent gave my hands one more twist and another nail dig- before letting go.

I can still feel the welts and gouged skin I was left with. I’m surprised I don’t have scars.

Truly- it was an evil game. And I was an evil loser. (Do kids still play that? I’m guessing it’s probably outlawed- along with see-saws…)

I swore I’d never play again. It wasn’t the pseudo-sprained wrists the scratches or the losing that bothered me… it was the humiliation of begging for mercy.

I hated it.

The truth is- I still have issues with it.

Of course- I now have nails that would make Chuck Norris beg for mercy….(Thank you acrylic tips and Korean nail girl. I love you both.) but I think that playing mercy with your child is probably akin to child abuse and since my youngest is probably the only human being who would even consider a game…. I refrain.

At least with humans.

Not so much with God.

With God I flex my wrists and crack my knuckles and dig in- refusing to beg for mercy. I don’t WANT mercy. I don’t want to NEED it. I want to be perfect. I want to be merciful……(I’m a nice person. Kind of.) I just don’t want to need mercy.

Mercy- isn’t a game.



  1. Compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within one’s power to punish or harm: “the boy was begging for mercy”.
  2. An event to be grateful for, esp. because its occurrence prevents something unpleasant or provides relief from suffering.
pity – compassion – clemency – grace – charity – ruth


(1) Mercy is the kind, sympathetic, and forgiving treatment of others that works to relieve their distress and cancel their debt. Or (2) mercy is compassion combined with forbearance and action.

Maybe I am scarred by all those elementary school games of mercy, after all. Maybe they warped my perception of God. (Or, maybe, I’m just warped.) But  some part of me  sees mercy as a game. A game where you beg for it and in doing so-you lose. That warped part of me also seems to think God is a poor sport. Like God gloats over my need for mercy like a deranged 5th grader: “HA! I knew you’d scream mercy! You just can’t cut it. You’re not tough enough. You’re not GOOD enough! You. Need. Help.”  That part of me: doesn’t want it.

Lately I’ve been thinking there’s something wrong me. (Okay- thats not exactly new…. I know.. but stay with me.) I keep hearing things about how women want to be rescued…..they wait for a white knight.. a prince charming….to sweep them off their feet and make everything all better. Honestly? The  idea makes me nauseous.

I don’t want to be rescued. There, I said it.

I’m sure there is some deep psychological reason for this. Or maybe it’s because my husband is so perfectly wonderful (he is.) that I don’t have to imagine it…..Or maybe, it’s as simple as pride. (It probably is.) Or stubbornness. Whatever the reason- (Or reasons— I’m a text book of crazy.) my detest for all things rescue-like- is tied up in my mercy game with God.

The thing is… I search through the bible and find things like this:

  1. Deuteronomy 4:31 For the Lord your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.
  2. Daniel “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him;
  3. Micah 7 8-10 “Who is a God like you,who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea”
  4. Micah 7:18  ‘Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.”
  5. Matthew 9:3 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”

All of which kind of makes me think maybe mercy isn’t just a game after all. Maybe it’s a gift. 

What if that moment when we finally cry mercy, is the moment when we finally- win? What if- God really is delighted to show us mercy… not disgusted by our need?

I’m not making any New Years resolutions… (I don’t have the resolve.) But I’ve decided to choose a word for this year. Some people are choosing words they love…. concepts they hold dear- I’m choosing a word I struggle with:

Mercy. to be used interchangeably with: rescue.  A word I just plain hate.

Here’s why:

Micah 6:8

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.
And what does the Lord require of you?
To act justly and to love mercy
    and to walk humbly with your God.

Lord Jesus- I have this mercy thing so messed up.The ugly truth is:  I WANT to be merciful…. but I don’t want to NEED mercy. I have this picture of you standing in front of me twisting my wrists waiting for me to scream mercy….. and then gloat over it when I finally do…. I’m sorry for thinking of you that way. Lord- this year- help me find refuge in rescue help me not to walk justly but to LOVE mercy— the mercy you give and the mercy you enable me to show… help me to see you as you are. I love you Lord- now help me love mercy! Amen!

Ha! Only I can take 1,000 words to share my one word…. i got skillz. :P

So what about you” DO you struggle with Mercy? Do you long for rescue or rebel against it?

Do you make New Years Resolutions? What are they?

Or- did you- like me- choose One Word? If so– share it in the comments and tell us why! I can’t wait to hear!