It’s the season of cooking, gatherings, holiday decorations, gifts, traveling, and cheer. I’ve been reflecting a lot on what this time of year means for all of us - what it means to me.
I’m closing in on my fourth month here and have come up with two themes I find myself repeating -“It’s complicated” and “Everyone deserves a second chance”.
Our guests have complicated stories that include substance use, health issues, strained family relationships, and trauma to name a few. Holidays can heighten some of those and it becomes a really difficult time of the year. Sometimes relapses occur. Sometimes, strained relationships become even more strained. Sometimes, it just isn’t the most wonderful time of the year.
But it is this time of year that I’m more grateful than ever to be here for our guests and clients. To offer a safe place to find refuge, a safe place to try again, a safe place to celebrate, and a safe place to find community. I’m calling it the season for second chances. A season for grace and mercy. As Bryan Stevenson discusses in his book, Just Mercy, we are all broken by something.
“We have all hurt someone or have been hurt. And perhaps, we all need some measure of unmerited grace… The power of just mercy is that it belongs to the undeserving. It’s when mercy is least expected that it’s most potent. The people who haven’t earned it, who haven’t even sought it, are the most meaningful recipients of our compassion….”
So, my challenge to you this holiday season is to stop and look up from all the busyness. Whether you are celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, a faith believer, or a non-faith believer, how will you show mercy during this season of second (or third…or fourth) chances? We’re all complicated. We are all broken in some way and that’s what connects us.
Mercy doesn’t have to be complicated. It’s full of hopefulness. It’s full of compassion. It’s full of grace. And it’s free.