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Grace and Mercy: Part 2 – Mercy

This article is the second in its series. Please refer to Part 1 – “Grace”, before reading about “Mercy.”

Grace and mercy are typically thought to be interchangeable. We use the words as if they have the same meaning, but just as I broke down what “Grace” is in the first article in this series, I will now break down what “Mercy” is.

While they hold different meanings, grace and mercy coincide with each other to offer us a much more fulfilling and peaceful life. Even if you struggle at first to apply grace and mercy to your life and the lives of others, know that using these virtues will become easier as they become woven into how you live out your life. They will lighten your heart load and help you to share love within yourself and with others.

What is Mercy?

As with grace, there are many different definitions and ways to understand mercy. A few definitions of mercy by Merriam-Webster include:

  • compassion or forbearance shown especially to an offender or to one subject to one’s power
  • lenient or compassionate treatment
  • a blessing that is an act of divine favor or compassion
  • compassionate treatment of those in distress

All over the Bible, we read about spiritual ideas of mercy. Here is one of the scriptures regarding mercy:

“Let us then fearlessly and confidently and boldly draw near to the throne of grace (the throne of God’s unmerited favor to us sinners), that we may receive mercy [for our failures] and find grace to help in good time for every need [appropriate help and well-timed help, coming just when we need it].” – Hebrews 4:16 (AMP)

Not only do we see grace quoted my many people throughout history, but also the ideas behind mercy. Here are a few famous quotations about mercy:

“I have always found that mercy bears richer fruits than strict justice.” – Abraham Lincoln

“A little bit of mercy makes the world less cold and more just.” – Pope Francis

“Mercy is stronger than your sword.” – P. C. Cast

“The greatest firmness is the greatest mercy.” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

“Mercy listens — really listens, with interest and concern — then smiles, and reaches out her hand.” – J. M. DeMatteis

“Where mercy is shown, mercy is given.” – Duane Dog Chapman

“The more merciful acts thou dost, the more mercy thou wilt receive.” – William Penn

“Mercy is most empowering, liberating, and transformative when it is directed at the undeserving. The people who haven’t earned it, who haven’t even sought it, are the most meaningful recipients of our compassion.” – Bryan Stevenson

Mercy Responds

Mercy is the forbearance of punishment when no redemption has been enacted. It is forgiveness given without having been asked for it.

Birth mothers know all about mercy as well: We gave it to those who we felt let us down when we made our adoption decision.

As birth mothers, we have probably all felt the sting of loneliness and despair in facing an adoption decision. Chances are, like in my situation, there were loved ones you expected to support you who let you down. Despite our disappointment in them, we had to choose to forgive them, and move on by making our own decision about placing our babies for adoption.

Mercy responds, “I will forgive them so that I may have peace, and there is no need for me to feel condemned as I learn from the struggle of this season of my life.”

The Lessons from Grace and Mercy

Both grace and mercy are an act of love that reflects our own character, regardless of the other person’s character. No matter what faith virtues you hold, we can all grasp the concepts of grace and mercy. We can receive grace and mercy for ourselves, and we can grant them to others as well.

Mercy and grace, as practically applicable principles, will always encourage healing through growth that promotes maturity. Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same. It’s not always easy to practice the principles of grace and mercy in our lives, but growing in our own character is more important than fitting in with the crowd or caring what others think of us.

We can grow and mature in learning through applying the principles of grace and mercy in our own paths of healing post-placement.

This article is the second in its series. Please refer to Part 1 – Grace, before reading about “Mercy.”

-Lindsay Arielle

Lindsay Arielle is a guest blogger for Considering Adoption. She placed her son for adoption more than a decade ago. Over the years, Lindsay has chronicled her post-placement healing walk via her writing to share her experience, strength and hope with other birth mothers on their own paths of healing. Lindsay’s blogs boldly reflect that, “Healing is a journey, not a destination.”