A 5-Letter Word

Never in my life have I so badly wanted to abort Super Hero plans, revoke fun, and send a little bum to bed at 6:33 PM on a Friday night.


12 days ago, I wanted to call the mommy of my son’s friend and say, “I’m sorry, but your son (who has probably been incessantly asking you if it’s time to go to his friend’s house ALL WEEK LONG) can no longer come to our house tonight because for the last hour, my son has been a disrespectful, disobedient, ungrateful, undeserving, out-of-control, out-of-his-mind PUNK!”

My red-hot, bubbling-lava, heart-palpitating anger was completely justified.

He deserved canceled plans.

He deserved unfulfilled expectations.

He deserved 19 hours of rescinded time with his buddy and 19 extra hours with his boring, ticked-off parents.

For goodness sake, that little soul deserved to be sent to bed with no bed time snack, no extra drink of water, no silly songs, no library stories, no Eskimo kisses, and no (I repeat, NO) hope of waking up the next morning to his friend in the bunk below!!!

THAT is EXACTLY what he deserved.

But that’s not what he got…no, that’s not what he got.

Instead, I proceeded with our home’s normal course of prescribed discipline for THAT kind of behavior (I know…I know…some of you are just dying to know if we’re the spanking parents, the time out parents, the redirecting parents, or those [insert your own adjective] parents who believe that a 3 year-old has no control over their behavior…but alas, I will have to leave you hanging because this blog isn’t a place to debate discipline decisions).

Suffice to say, he received his earned discipline, and we moved on with the evening’s plans.

So why didn’t I just give him what he REALLY deserved? 

Well, I can sum it up with a five-letter word…


My son received MERCY. 

He deserved punishment, but he was met with MERCY. 

And I’ve been chewing on this gift called, MERCY, since well…about November 6th.

I wish I could tell you that I’ve spent a majority of my Christian walk celebrating and contemplating MERCY, but I can’t.

Truly, I’ve only REALLY been thinking about MERCY for 29 days.

So what happened 29 days ago that prompted this MERCY pondering?

Well, sitting across the table from my brother (in a Paris Starbucks), he posed a fairly simple question, and it went something like this.

So…how do you see MERCY playing a distinct role in your life, apart from GRACE?”  

I had a “Starbuck’s stupor” (one of those moments where you’re sitting in Starbucks and you really have no clue what to say). After a few “um’s,” I managed to fumble out a little mumble jumble, but it wasn’t heartfelt and it certainly wasn’t thought through.

I could probably conjure up several reasons for why MERCY has been absent from my contemplative heart and mind for the last 30+ years, but I’ll stick with the biggie.

And that biggie reason is really quite simple…

I jump right to grace…the gift I do get but don’t deserve.

And when I skip over and even lump the two together, I miss something BIG…something REALLY, REALLY BIG.

I overlook the PUNISHMENT that I DO DESERVE but DON’T GET

And when I fully look upon the punishment I DO DESERVE, how much more I relish the giver and the gifts that I DON’T DESERVE!

I deserve His anger, but I have received His love.

I deserve death, but I have received life.

I deserve His justice, but I have received His patience.

I deserve separation, but I have received communion.

I deserve His contempt, but I have received His peace.

I deserve NOTHING, but I have been given EVERYTHING. 


Because the One who deserved EVERYTHING became NOTHING. 

…He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Philippians 2:7-8

My chains are gone

I’ve been set free

My God, my Savior has ransomed me

And like a flood His MERCY reigns

Unending love, amazing grace

-Chris Tomlin

And once again, this son and his undeserving Mama have a whole lot in common. 


7 thoughts on “A 5-Letter Word

  1. LOVE this. Something I’ve been mulling over for several months as I continue to search for that “perfect” integrated balance between discipline and grace with my kids. This puts my thoughts into visible clarity. Thanks! 🙂

  2. Friend, I am so thankful for your ability to catch so many of God’s lessons for us as children as you parent yours. This was powerful and deep and such a welcomed reminder to appreciate mercy as much as we appreciate grace (more so, in fact, because we can always appreciate each of them way, WAY more than we do). Love you, these words, and how the Lord is using your blog to remind people who read it of Who He is and how He loves.

  3. Thank the Lord for His mercy! It is wise of you to incorporate God’s attributes in training your children. We give mercy, grace, and judgment, just as God does, when disciplining our children. Great post today girl!

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