This year Pope Francis called for all Christians to embrace a year of mercy.  To “rediscover the infinite mercy of the Father who welcomes everyone and goes out personally to encounter each of them.” If I had a meme, it would look something like me plotting ways for Pope Francis to hear my ideas for next year’s theme.  I see a dish of M&M’s with Joy, Peace, and Rest. A phone call perhaps: “Dear Holy Father, About that year of mercy.  You see I’m weak, and I want a break.”

But not really. I embrace this year of mercy, and it is changing everything.

I have done some serious soul searching and am challenging myself to let go of the resentment I have held from past wounds, to let go of the hurt I allow myself still to feel. I have told myself it is okay to reach out and mend fences. I have challenged myself to go beyond my comfort zone because Christ asks that of me, but most of all, because I want to be a model for my family. I want to model mercy. If I want them to be merciful to others, then I need to model it and welcome mercy through my doors.

There are wounds. We all have caused them and we all carry them. Wounds from childhood. Wounds that are messy and complicated. Over the years, as a mother, I  have tried to mend wounds myself. This year, my family is asking God to step in, weaving his grace around their wounds. I imagine the Holy Spirit pouring himself into the wounds of my heart and of those whom I love. I am asking for healing and asking to heal the wounds I have caused others.

Father Mike Schmitz says “Humility is knowing who you are and who you are not.” This strikes me because in knowing who I am and what I am capable of, I can then ask God to fill those voids. And He does — fully.

I live my life as a witness to my family. It is humbling to have them see me fall and joyful when I see them embrace something I am trying to share.  I am trying to teach mercy in a very real way.

The other day, there was a family moment where one of my boys lost his computer privileges and was very upset. As I was in the kitchen stewing over the incident, I heard the Lord calling me to mercy. I was frustrated with this particular son.  I looked over; saw the laptop on the kitchen counter; my son on the couch, sulking; and I picked up the laptop and quietly sat down next to him, laptop in my hands.

I told him that his actions and his words had wounded me and it would be hard for me to let go. I told him that I was going to give the laptop back to him and demonstrate mercy. Mercy is not deserved, it is given — freely. Jesus shows such mercy to me daily, and I want to give my son the same gift. He sat there, astounded, as I handed him the laptop. I got up and went back to the dishes. He sat there quietly, not opening the laptop, head bent, deep in thought. About a half-hour later, he slowly walked into the kitchen and said, “I’m sorry, Momma. I never knew how real mercy was unto you showed me.” HE gave me a hug and went upstairs. The laptop left on the couch.

“Humility is knowing who you are and who you are not.” —Father Mike Schmitz

You see, mercy demands humility. Humility is about putting yourself out of the way and allowing something bigger than you to lead the way. In this year of mercy, I’m embracing the challenge to open wide our hearts for Christ and to let his mercy rain down upon the hearts of my family, myself, and those whom he has placed upon my journey.

How about you? What are you doing to embrace God’s mercy in your life? How can you be His mercy for others?