Unexpected Mercy

We laughed until our sides hurt and tears came to our eyes. At this point, we weren't even laughing about the original joke. After ten minutes, it was a miracle we even had breath left. And yet we kept going. And that was just ten minutes out of a six day trip.

I almost didn't go to that tournament. My heart was burning from a deep rejection. I was going through the motions, wishing for winter's months to come to an end. Spring felt decades away. I wished I were graduating this year instead of next. I wished I could start over with an entirely new group of people. I wished for the hurt to go away. But things hardly ever go as I wish them to.

My fragile glass heart was broken, and the shards cut my soul. I held onto hope, but that hope was just a thread that I clutched as I walked in the dark, looking for a way out.

When I deal with things, I deal with things on my own. Much of the time, this is stupid. Closing yourself off to Youtube videos and books isn't actually as conducive to healing as I'd like to believe.

Two months ago, I traveled to a tournament with my friends (and some people who became my friends). I was expecting to be as miserable there as I had been for the last several months. At the last minute I thought about backing out. The only reason I did go was because I'd made a commitment to my debate partner to be there.

I was still hurting when I drove to my friend's house in the rain that Tuesday morning. For the first half of the day I thought of the friends I had lost and the friends I was losing, wondering if I'd end up with no friends at all. I was expecting to find more loneliness. I found laughter.

In our deepest hurts, God brings mercy.

When Jesus spoke to the woman at the well (John 4) he didn't fix all her problems, he didn't take away her broken heart. He offered mercy. He offered living water. Living water that didn't bring immediate healing, but gradually mended her soul.

In the midst of my 8 month long hurt, God brought mercy. In the shards of my broken heart, the laughter of my friends reminded me that there was happiness at the end of my long walk of hope. In a basement and on car rides and in Jason's Deli, I was reminded that God shows up in small places. Just as He is in the Grand Canyon and in miraculous physical healings, He is in the laughter of friends.

God rarely gives us what we want because He wants to give us what's best. What I wanted at the moment wouldn't have healed me. It wouldn't have lasted. While I can see that now, I couldn't see it as I prepared to go to Missouri two months ago.

I lost a lot of friends, but looking back I can see that God was preparing me for better relationships. Not just in that car on the Oklahoma turnpike, but on Wednesday and Sunday nights at my two (very) different youth groups, in the day to day with my family members. In the little moments, mercy has slipped through the cracks, creating a more beautiful picture than I could've dreamed of at the point of impact in January.

Laughing for 20 minutes straight with my friends, watching Family Feud with my mom, taking pictures of tulips with my dad, dancing around to Silly Songs With Larry with my siblings. God shows up. Mercy is poured or dripped all around, not making any sense until the other side is reached. And when that other side is reached, redemption has painted a better picture than I could dream.

I went to Kansas City with those same people this month. I came into it happier than I had two month prior. As we got closer to each other, my hope and joy increased. Though we all may be dealing with our own individual hurts, we have the same hope, the same mercy: Christ Jesus.

In our moments of brokenness, Christ fills the cracks with little moments of mercy. In our moments of brokenness, Christ offers the chance to live gracefully

Living gracefully gives us the courage to laugh.

Little moments of mercy give little moments of brave.

And that's what's up.