My students have been “over cookin’ my grits” this week and my mercy meter is running dangerously low. I have literally begged kids to turn in work. I have made remediation assignment to help improve their grade. I have sent text messages and emails to parents and still nothing. Along with the technology issues I’ve had this week, yesterday, I was done.

Or so I thought.

After entering make up work and remediation grades (a few who were already passing chose to do) I looked at my failures. With my mercy meter on empty I resolved, “I’ve done all I can do. If their parents don’t care, why should I? I have given them the opportunity; if they won’t take advantage of it, that’s on them. They deserve whatever they get.”

But Holy Spirit…

I have been praying to see like God sees, to love like God loves. Here was my opportunity, the Holy Spirit reminded me.

I picked up the phone and called each parent whose child still had an opportunity to pass. I was surprised they each picked up the phone. Each was supportive. Each expressed frustration. Each had a story of trying to balance work and managing their child’s studies. Each expressed their child’s behavior was not indicative of the norm. Each was overwhelmed.

Their stories could not be describe with a meme or a sarcastic Facebook post. Their stories were real and raw and painful.

It was so easy for me in my middle-classness to judge, to criticize, to give up on. But when I engaged, when I listened, when I connected, I found stories that were far more complicated then I had imagined. I was able to glimpse into what God sees. I was able to extend mercy I thought I no longer had.

I share this story to remind each of you, as I was reminded yesterday, that life is complicated. Social issues are complicated. People’s stories are real and raw. We can’t understand the full story until we get off of social media and engage, listen, connect.

If your mercy meter is low, ask God to see like He sees. Ask Him to love like He loves. Yesterday, I lived the lesson: Mercy triumphs victoriously over judgment.

Friends, as you listen to the news today, choose mercy.
As you are tempted to post memes today, choose mercy.
When you encounter someone struggling with a sin, choose mercy.
Mercy triumphs over our judgment.

“For judgment is without mercy to the one who has not shown mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.”
‭‭James‬ ‭2:13‬ ‭CSB‬‬