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When her friend showed up with a dinner Lara Patangan said she didn't need, Lara was reminded of the meaning of mercy.

I had a yucky experience during a medical procedure. “Yucky” seems less traumatic than hearing the head of the department at a renowned hospital say, “I am not really sure what is happening to you. This has never happened before.” So, I am going with yucky because it sounds a little less terrifying than it was. 

But it’s not my physical reaction that was the most surprising. It was my resistance to accepting mercy when I know how other people’s compassion can bless both the giver and the receiver. 

After hearing about my experience, a friend offered to bring my family dinner. Typically, if anyone offers to feed me, I accommodate with the gluttonous joy of a counter-surfing Labrador. I don’t like to cook. I end up with splatter stains on my clothes, salmonella all over my counters, and an overcooked entrée that I worry is still lurking with salmonella. Yet when my sweet friend offered to bring us dinner, I immediately refused. Unlike me, my friend loves to cook and doesn’t neurotically overcook things to avoid food pathogens. 

Still, I resisted. I resisted because accepting help sometimes makes me feel vulnerable. I resisted because I didn’t want to acknowledge how much my health issues have distorted my identity. I resisted because I didn’t want to admit how powerless I felt. I didn’t want to be on this end of mercy. I didn’t want anyone to worry about me. I didn’t want any of this. 

Yet here I am. 




And praise be to God, there was my friend who showed up with dinner anyway. There was also my mom who brought soups and cookies. And when I left early the next morning for yet another doctor’s appointment, I tripped over a gift bag on my front steps from a friend who showed up in the wee hours of the morning on her way to work to drop a little gift by my house. I didn’t need any of it, but I was grateful for all of it. 


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Mercy is a gift of compassion that reminds us that we can share the burden of our crosses. #CatholicMom

Mercy by definition isn’t something we deserve or can repay. It’s a gift of compassion that reminds us that we can share the burden of our crosses. We aren’t meant to carry them alone. We are made stronger by letting someone help us when we feel weak. Once I let my guard down enough to receive the love being offered to me, I was reminded of yet another benefit of mercy—its power to heal.  It’s kind of like medicine. Sometimes it can be hard to take, yet it makes everything better. 



Copyright 2023 Lara Patangan
Images: Canva