“The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.”
Psalm 103:8

When I was a young girl, I feared God. My God image was of an enormous, grumpy, white-bearded, distant being just lying in wait for me to make a mistake so he could smite me on the spot. I would never have explained him as, “slow to anger,” especially after having felt the sting of the natural consequences of some of my choices. I was quick to blame God for any misfortunes or troubles. This reaction closed my heart and prevented me from receiving the gifts of love, mercy, joy, etc.

Although in my formative years I may have given God good reason to “smite” me, instead he showed me mercy.   Even as an adult, I sometimes forget his GREAT love and abundant mercies; and wonder when I will be struck down in my sinfulness.  How I quickly I all too often forget the gift of the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Penance; and the grace God has for me there!

My childhood “image of God” – except with the glasses ON his nose (Pixabay PD)

My understanding of God also lacked the notion of steadfast love, a love that never wavers or abandons us. The love abounding in the God I had chosen to believe in resembled my own broken, vacillating, sometimes finicky love—a love easily given or taken away when hurt or slighted, without the steadfast of the God who truly is. I closed off communication, determined to do life on my own.

Yet with great love and mercy God pulled me from my deep pit of sin, hopelessness, and despair. His mercy was evident in the opportunities to grow in faith placed before me, such as Bible study, daily adoration of the Blessed Sacrament at my parish, and a wise spiritual director. Although in my formative years I may have given God good reason to “smite” me, instead he showed me mercy. Allowing his compassion to wash over me and move within me accomplished far more than keeping me from becoming a pile of ash and soot. This openness to his mercy—to communicating with the true God through prayer, the sacraments, and Scripture—saved me.

All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016
First appeared as a part of Pauline Books & Media‘s 7 Qualities of Mercy series #YearofMercy