Friday, September 26, 2008

Mercy and Justice - best when served together

Sheila over at To Love Honor and Vacuum was talking about mercy and justice earlier this week. She mentioned a personality test where you have to answer whether you like mercy or justice better. I've been thinking about this because I couldn't decide which way I would answer. After much consideration, I've come to the realization that I can't choose only one because either one without the other is unloving.

I tend to see the best in people and like giving them second (and third and fourth...) chances. And mercy is, at first glance, the more loving choice. So it should be an easy choice.

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,

It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven

Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:

It blesseth him that gives and him that takes. --Shakespeare

However, as C.S. Lewis put it, "Mercy, detached from Justice, grows unmerciful."

Injustice really aggravates my spirit, even when it does not harm or even affect me in any direct way. Why is that? God is Just. God is Merciful. So the two are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I believe they are inextricably linked. Here's what George MacDonald has to say about it:

Such is the mercy of God that he will hold his children in the consuming fire of his distance until they pay the utmost farthing, until they drop the purse of selfishness with all the dross that is in it, and rush home to the Father and to the Son and the brethren—rush inside the life-giving Fire whose outer circle burns.

Justice without mercy is severe and cold and leaves no room for hope. But mercy without justice is equally...wrong. If mercy alone was enough, there was no point for Jesus to die on the cross.

This was a rather rambling post, and I'm still thinking about this subject. But my blogging time is up for the day, so have a great weekend! And let me know what you think.

Say what you mean

Sometimes you just have to be flexible! I had hoped to post to this blog about once a day, but I had a curveball thrown at my schedule on Wednesday. But that's okay -- it meant I got to spend some time at the park with my daughter, and the weather even cooperated!

Speaking of "got", when I was in high school I read somewhere that the word "got" is over-used, and I took up a challenge to try not to use the word or it's variations at all for one month (Molly may remember this endeavor). To this day, I can't use the word without thinking about it and considering whether there might be a better word to use. This week I've decided to work on my speech patterns again, but my goals are a bit more ambitious this time around.

First, I'm trying to cut back on sarcasm. The first web definition I found for "sarcasm" is: A cutting, often ironic remark intended to wound. Wow, when you put it like brings shame to my heart for how much I fall back on sarcasm. I definitely never intend to hurt anyone with my words, but I know that it happens because of my carelessness. So even when it's obvious that I'm joking and the sarcasm isn't directed at a particular person, I've decided that it has no place in my life. With Jon's help (and the help of any other family/friends reading this blog), I hope I'll be sarcasm-free within a month! Maybe I should start a jar...

On a broader scale, I am making a deliberate effort to say exactly what I mean and mean what I say. What do I really mean by that? I don't think I'm the only one in our society who has grown lazy with speech -- generalizations and broad, sweeping statements seem to be the order of the day in communication. So terms such as "always", "never", and "everyone" are out the window along with sarcasm for the next month. It's like nobody very few people have the time to be bothered with expounding their thoughts beyond a casual sentence or two.

Finally, among my communication makeover goals, I want to remember to ask my husband to do specific things around the house before I get upset about them not getting done (or having to do them myself). I'm married to a great guy, and I know and trust that he loves me and does not see me as a "pick-up fairy". But sometimes that's exactly what I feel like. Why exactly should I have to put his shoes where they belong? Or pick up the glasses he frequently leaves around the house? I'm not his mother! These kinds of thoughts sneak into my mind pretty regularly when I'm tired and trying to keep the house in order at the end of a long day. (Okay, they're not as wordy as that and probably not as kind, but you get the gist). But it is not the sign of disrespect that I think it is. It's just a sign that he has bigger things on his mind than whether or not his sneakers are under the bench. Maybe I should to.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Stepping boldly into the blogging world

Here I am, for better or worse! When I finally made the decision to join the burgeoning "blogosphere" (inspired by my recently rediscovered friend, Ruth), I thought I might go conservative and create a site just to keep up-to-date with family and friends. But whether you want it or not, I'm going to give something more than that -- in short, my thoughts on Life, the Universe, and Everything. I hope you find something interesting and/or encouraging in my words. 

So why "A Sanctuary Sought"? One of my greatest goals in life is for my home to be a sanctuary for those who enter it, and especially to my husband and child(ren). I enjoy hosting people for dinners  and barbeques, even though it's a bit of a drive for most of our friends to get out to our home in the wheat fields. And it brings great satisfaction when someone comments that they feel peaceful and relaxed when they visit.

Of course, with a 10-month old baby girl and a tightly packed schedule, the "sanctuary" isn't always easy to create. When I first returned to work after becoming a mom, I struggled to find any peace in our home, and despair and frustration stole my joy and contentment. I spoke with my pastor's wife, who encouraged me greatly -- but the real break came when I found a little book called "To Love, Honor, and Vacuum: When you feel more like a maid than a wife and a mother" (Sheila Wray Gregoire). I highly recommend this book to any woman who is or hopes to be married one day. I won't try to summarize it here (just go read it! really!). I will say that God used it to help me bring balance back to my life. It still takes determination and perseverance (with a strong dose of organization!) each day, but I have learned that choosing to do something with joy can make all the difference in the world -- even laundry and dishes.