Lara Patangan ponders what happens when things don't go as planned: that's where mercy comes in.
You know when you work really hard at something and you plan out the details and then despite all your efforts and all your intention, pretty much everything falls apart?
That was my day last week.
I was working on a deadline to make an announcement on social media that my new book, Simple Mercies, is available for preorder. I made my first-ever video. I showered, put on my special cheetah shirt with polka-dot sleeves, hot-rolled my board-straight hair, and tried to remember all of the steps that the girl at the mall’s makeup counter told me would lighten or brighten or contour or otherwise paint me a little prettier than I am.
After I recorded my happy news on video, I went to get my blog post ready to send to you dear people and that’s when I realized that my website was down – like completely and utterly shot down from cyberspace. Because I am not an astronaut or someone who understands how computers work, this was problematic. Then, my computer, which has been glitchy for months, quit working. My mouse darted in spastic and erratic movements that ricocheted around the computer screen like an untethered helium balloon in perpetual flight.
Still, I was determined to get the video out. Only, when I listened to it one more time, I realized the incessant scratching noise in the background was my cat in her litter box. I wanted to cry. I was trying to be peppy and professional and there was a cat peeing in the background of my debut video. I thought, this cannot be my life.
But it is my life. It’s messy and imperfect and frustrating and sometimes even feels futile. It’s also filled with the mercy of good friends who lift me up, a patient and loving husband, and even teenage boys who are often surprisingly thoughtful. In this way, mercy and mess coexist. Mercy is the bridge that keeps me above water.
By the time this gets posted, Lent will be halfway over. If you are like me, you probably made plans for things that you intend to give up or to do. And, like everything else in life, it may not go just as you planned. That’s why it’s so important to remember the reason for our extra sacrifices and devotions.
The purpose of Lent – the entirety of our purpose, in fact, is to draw closer to God. This doesn’t always look like what we think it should. God is love, light, peace, warmth, – a white lily just before it explodes into a trumpet of full bloom. Yet, often it’s in the darkness, in the mess, and in our suffering that he is revealed.
I don’t think it matters so much what our lives look like – even when you are wearing your special cheetah shirt and your computer might as well have been obliterated by an asteroid. What matters is our intentions, our efforts to draw closer to God despite the obstacles of life, time, inherent flaws, and errant cats. It doesn’t have to be perfect – just purposeful.
Copyright 2021 Lara Patangan
About the Author
Lara Patangan is a freelance writer and inspirational speaker. A wife and mother of two boys, Patangan spent a year doing works of mercy. She writes about the life-changing power of mercy at LaraPatangan.com in a way that is humorous, relatable, and rife with humility. Her book, SimpleMercies: How the Works of Mercy Bring Peace and Fulfillment, is available for purchase wherever books are sold.