Phone call from kid crying- due to migraine. Check.

Bank. Check.

Kid picked up from school due to migraine. Check.

Cash paid for camp. Check. (See # 1- But-not actually a check- the school wanted cash. ((Did you know that still exists?) Which would have been fine, if I knew my PIN number….Which:  I don’t. Which also would have been fine if I had a physical bank… and could have cashed a check. But , we use an online bank…. so: not so much. UGH. )

(Yes. I said I went to the bank AND that I don’t have a physical bank. After a 20 minute phone call with the online bank of doom- I was told I can get a cash advance on my credit card at any bank. BUT- that I could be charged. They didn’t. But I would have paid.- Also- new PIN is being sent. Don’t judge me. 1) I have a hard time with numbers. and 2) I’ve received 3 new cards/ pins in the past 12 months. BLAH.)

Anyway:

Phone call to schedule pediatrician appointment. Check.

Phone call to schedule genetic counseling/testing appointment for hubby- Check. (Cancer= enough appointments to baffle Google calendar. Justsayin. A lot.)

Trip to CVS to pick up allergy meds and energy drinks with migraine-y kid in tow…. Check.

Except- almost not check.

Because CVS is where I almost broke my neck. (Can you do that while in an actual neck brace? Let’s just say I don’t want to find out…) (more…)

Grace and MercyLimits.  I’m not a fan. I like to problem solve. Tell me I can’t, and I’ll figure out how I CAN.  I could easily be confused, with a 3 year old. I say: “I’ll do it myself.”  Or “I can do it myself.” about as often.

The problem is- I can’t. Not always. Especially not now. Maybe not ever. But in truth? I never could. I just always try to. I try to be a jill of all trades- I have been known to: wallpaper and by myself. (One time standing on a kitchen chair in our slippery bathtub. Putting up  ceiling border. Think about it…. holding up a border until it sticks- applying pressure as the chair you’re standing on slowly pushes back and away from the surface you’re trying to stick it to….good times.) I’ve been known to Google “How to fix the pipes under your kitchen sink when they fall apart from the garbage disposal’s vibration.”  And then: fix it. (At least for a while. Newsflash: I’m not a plumber.) I prefer to offer my doctor a diagnosis consult  and suggested treatment plan when I go in for an appointment.

I’m not a doctor- nor did I sleep in a Holiday Inn Express last night. Yet… somehow– I feel like I can.. or that I should be able to do and figure everything out. IN truth-The list of examples could go on forever.

One of the limits I’m currently struggling with- is my neck. Either again- or still. Whatever. (I think I had 3 weeks after my last surgery where it had started to feel better…. then the slow creeping decline began- again.) Another failed surgery. I followed all the rules this time. I took my calcium and D 3.  I TRIED really HARD to tell my body to grow bone. It just: didn’t. In short- my neck… (Forgive the vernacular) Sucks. It hurts. My neck limits what I can and cannot do.

It’s been depressing me. Frustrating me. Upsetting me. I feel dis-abled. In the most literal sense. I feel… hobbled.… (I never should have watched the Movie “Misery.” Justsayin. I feel like James Cann in that flick-every time there is enough healing to get better and start to do more…- something whacks me again- and I’m hobbled, afresh.) I feel like I have less to give. I feel like I have less to help with. I hate it.

I’ve rebelled against it. (Scroll down to the snow shoveling incident.. not good.) Only to end up hobbling myself, even more. I’ve been angry at myself and looking for something- someone to blame. Usually there’s just: me. So I talk to myself. Blame myself. Manipulate myself.

“Get a grip. people live with worse. Be happy with what you can do. It’s just pain. Pain is part of life, accept it and move on. Don’t let it stop you. Stop being a hypochondriac. Suck it up buttercup. Don’t be a drama queen. Why do you keep doing stupid things?”

I’m not very nice. To myself.

Which is a problem. A big problem.

Because…..I’m usurping God’s expectations for me.

No, really. I am. I expect (desire, want)  my broken, weak, pain filled and needing to heal body- to perform like a healthy one. I want to be perfect. I want to be able to do it all. Somewhere in my twisted brain.. I think I should…..

I can’t find any scriptures to support this.

Instead, I find:

Hebrews 4:16

16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Matthew 22:36-40 

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

 1 John 4:16

“And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”

Psalm 145:8

” The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love.”

Hebrews 4:15

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.
There is nothing that calls me to do it all. No verse that tells me to be perfect. Not one verse tells me to fix my own brokenness.
I keep forgetting that.
Especially when I want to do.. one more load of laundry. Vacuum one more room. Clean one more closet. Help with one more cause. Join one more study….volunteer for one more thing…Or just plain have an hour without pain. The things that set  off the internal tirade of frustration, anger and guilt I wrote above…
When I do that…. I set those expectations on and take those frustrations out on someone handcrafted by God – his workmanship created for a purpose……..
His daughter.
Me.
I wonder how he feels about that?
As a mom, I’m pretty sure he’s not a fan of that, either.
I hate to see my children tear themselves up. I love them. I want them to be kind and loving to themselves and to others…. Which, as I look at the verses above.. especially in light of Easter week- when he put that love and mercy and grace into the ultimate action….. on the cross-convinces me I need to show my back (and self) some mercy. I also need God’s grace to heal me from the heart out. More important than my neck- I need to get over my perfectionistic drive.
So yesterday, being the visual learner that I am.. I put a reminder of that- right where I need it. On my back. In the form of a tattoo. 3 hours of pain- for a lifetime of remembering….”Be Gracious Tracey, Be merciful, Tracey. To yourself and to others. You are precious to the one who formed you. Treat yourself as such.”
I can’t do it all. I’m not perfect. I’m broken. I have limits. It’s okay.  I don’t have to be perfect. I don’t have to do it all. The truth is…We’re all broken. (in some way.) And we’re all beautiful- created by God for a divine purpose.
I hope- Dear Reader…. that you will do the same.
You are loved. You are broken. You don’t have to be perfect. You don’t have to do it all. Show yourself some grace and mercy… you need it. so do I.
“Dear Lord- You know I hate my limits. Help me to accept them and respect them. Help me to love my life and not to waste it longing for a perfect, healthy pain free one. Help me to be gracious and merciful, help me to accept your mercy and grace- I love you Lord…. so very much. Help this ink be a reminder of all these things…. In Jesus name-amen
Kudo’s to Cee Jay at Suicide Kings Tattoo’s who worked with me to create the perfect reminder- ;)
The brace- cone of shame...

The brace- cone of shame…

“It’s not fused. You wear the brace 24/7. Maybe it will still fuse. If not. I’ll do surgery.”

So, here we are again. For the foreseeable future I will be accessorized by a hard, ugly, uncomfortable, neck brace. And I will be praying that this stupid neck fuses with every uncomfortable reminder:

  • Like bumping into someone or something because I can’t see. (Not being able to turn your head- limits your peripheral vision… it’s a great way to meet new people… just sayin.)
  • When I trip over everything.. and nothing) Not being able to look down is a little like being 9  months pregnant and not being able to see your feet. (Minus the belly. well. maybe not in my case:P)
  • When I walk like a 92 year old woman- bent over trying not to fall because falling would be BAD, very bad.
  • When I have to hold my laptop at about nose level (propped on  my knees) in order to type this because I STILL cannot touch type and need to see my fingers…..(FYI: in addition to math, I failed typing in 9th grade. oopsy.)
  • When I have to fish bits of lunch out of the brace and need help with everything I drop and end up having a fit because eating without seeing what your doing is a little like this scene from Helen Keller. 

The good news: (more…)

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.

mer·cy

/ˈmərsē/

Noun
  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.
Synonyms
pity – compassion – clemency – grace – charity – ruth

mercy:

(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!