Not-So-Tender Mercies: Part II

After my inbox filled up with sweet e-mails and comments  in response to last week's Not-So-Tender Mercies post, I knew that it was a topic that rang true for someone(s) other than myself. I knew that I needed to revisit it when I woke up in the middle of the night thinking of all the parts I didn't say the first time around. So, if you'll allow me, let's do it again. Let's talk about the yucky stuff. And maybe we can reap the benefits of our collective experiences, strengths, and hopes.
To start we'll cover the top the three sentiments I heard in my e-mails and comments.

When we're the cause of our own tough times:

The general consensus on this is that this sucks.

These are always the worst kind of Not-so-Tender Mercies; at least they feel that way. When I make my own bad decisions, I don't have anyone to blame when I'm forced to face the repercussions of those choices. That gives these kind of experiences their own special flavor and sting.

Regardless of whether or not my tough times are my own dang fault, that doesn't mean that I can't find solace, peace, comfort, forgiveness, and understanding from The One who has redeemed me. Just like my earthly parents, my Heavenly Parents love me unconditionally. And, just like my earthly parents, my Heavenly Parents can't shield me from my own choices, but that doesn't mean they love me any less.

Early in my college career I dreaded the impending mathematics courses that I would inevitably have to take. My first semester at LDSBC I bit the bullet and signed up for my required course. I wanted it   over with. I had an amazing professor that instilled in me a love for the subject. I enjoyed sitting in class and solving equations and dove into all of my material. But this didn't always translate to opening the book at home. In class, surrounded by white boards, my peers, my professor, I felt confident in my skills. At home alone at my desk I felt too intimidated to even crack my text.


On a day when a particularly important section of homework was due I felt crippled by my own insecurities. I had an hour before class and was nowhere near close to finishing. I had no choice but to approach my kind professor and let them know that I wouldn't be able to turn it in on time. They patiently told me that I could hand it in the next day, but I would lose a number of points on that particular assignment. I was so embarrassed. I admired this professor immensely and hated having to own up to my mistake.

I called my mom and dad in tears, looking for their comfort. "I'm so sorry," I remember them saying on the phone, "that's a tough thing to do." They couldn't help me. They couldn't console me with "it isn't your fault" or "what a mean teacher". I had no one to blame but myself; I had to put in the work. That day when I got home there were flowers waiting for me with a note that said, "Don't do drugs. Love, Mom & Dad".

Just because they couldn't lift me out of my own problem didn't mean that they weren't there to love and support me through my learning. Our Heavenly Parents are as well.

P.S. - Happy ending. That same professor ended up hiring me to work in the math department. My favorite job to date.

When we can't control our tough times:

Another tricky part of Not-so-Tender Mercies is when we have no control over them. When hard times come to us through no fault of our own they can be hard to swallow. For me, the biggest thing to remember during these times is that we are indeed powerless over other people, places, and institutions. We can't control the actions of others, but we can control how we react.

Before we moved to Europe my parents went on a house hunting trip to Germany. I was in high school and left in charge of my younger siblings. I got them fed and to school, took care of things at home, and made sure that we avoided complete pandemonium. During that time our house was on the market and we had frequent showings. This wasn't my first rodeo and I knew how the house needed to look during showings. With one planned for later in the week I took my time moving from room to room, cleaning a little each day to make sure everything was ready. Two days before the showing hour and a half to make sure the house was show-ready. Panic ensued. I ran frantically through the house, completely alone, and with the full weight of the showing on my shoulders.
was scheduled I received a voicemail from my parents. The showing had been moved up and I had an

Breaking down or losing my cool wasn't an option in that moment. I had a job to do. I sprayed some febreeze, drove the vacuum like it was the Daytona 500, and pulled away from the garage with less than five minutes to spare. I drove directly to the QuikTrip for a drink and stopped at the park. The emotions I had felt in the past hour came crashing down. It wasn't anybody's fault that the showing had been rescheduled and no one had done anything wrong. The anxiety and heavy responsibility I felt in those moments didn't feel so tender. But I learned more about my own strength and character. To this day, when I am in the midst of a frenzied struggled and absolutely everything feels so immediate, I think back on that experience.

The Purpose of Not-So-Tender Mercies:

So, what's the point? Why are we allowed to shoot ourselves in the foot? Why can't we control other people's action to alleviate our own suffering? God couldn't force me to open my math book or cause the showing not to be rescheduled. We have our agency; we make our choices. And so do others. That is a beautiful part of mortality, and sometimes a not-so-beautiful part, too.

So, what do you say? Same time next week? Comment below and let me know what we should talk about. What gets you through the Not-so-Tender Mercies?

1 comment:

  1. What gets me through not so tender mercies is reading your blog! Keep up the great writing Marie. I love that your parents sent you those flowers. I heart them.

    ReplyDelete