Changing churches four years ago ripped away so much of the belonging and being known that I had so treasured. It happened under difficult circumstances as these things often do. Rebuilding community and establishing new friendships has been slow. Uncomfortable. Difficult. It has torn at the edges of my identity layers. Not that who I am has changed, but who I am in the context of community just didn't exist for so very long. In the first year or two at our current church I did a spiritual gifts survey. Mostly it affirmed and confirmed things like me becoming a teacher. I understood that my love of history and geography comes from my apostle/mission gift. Apparently I am wise (a new career path kind of puts a bump in that road). I have a spiritual knowledge that is supposedly heightened. I don't know - these things just seem normal to me. Then I looked at the bottom of the gifts. Mercy was ... well ... almost missing. I have just enough to know I need to work on it.
What I discovered, over Easter, as I spent time with my Mum's siblings is that my lack of mercy is a family trait. I come from a long line of people who are not inclined to be overly sympathetic. My mother described a time when my brothers and I had a week of injuring our feet. A by-product of never wearing shoes that didn't seem to change our bare-footed ways! I'd had a wort surgically removed from one foot, and then sliced the other open on some glass. My youngest brother came in, just days later, having sliced his foot open in a similar way. When my middle brother did the same thing later that week my mother's response was "sit down and be quiet," and she went to gather the foot dressing stuff that had not yet been put away.
I cannot explain what a relief it was to know that my lack of mercy is not unusual. Each of us in my non-merciful family have other gifts the world needs us to use. I among a beautiful group of people who are perfectly OK with their kids leaving home - celebrate it, even. They are great at figuring out how to unlock passworded spreadsheets and fixing computer glitches and finding geocaches. They are creative and funny and cheeky and they laugh a lot.
The precious gift I received this Easter was a repair in my identity. Not just because the weekend was about remembering that Jesus made me part of God's family. But because I truly belong to an amazing group of people. And mercy isn't required to be valuable, loved, accepted.