Discovering the meaning of mercy

By The Beacon | February 14, 2016 7:15pm
Senior Allison Hogan and her grandfather.

by Allison Hogan |

For some, mercy is a term that simply means forgiveness. Others may think of the phrase “merciful God.” What many seem to forget is that the road to mercy isn’t always as easy as providing the definition. Growing up with four parents was not exactly ideal for me; as I travelled back and forth I felt as though I was living two separate lives.

At the age of six, I was under the impression that my best and easiest response to this change in my life was to manipulate or change myself to fit the ideal vision of a child that each parent was looking for. Have you ever just wanted to make everyone happy and overlook your own happiness?

Unfortunately, I learned through many trials and tribulations that this outcome is all too impossible to achieve. As I have grown older, I have had the most amazing opportunity to understand what mercy means to me as a young adult. As I held in a lot of anger throughout my life due to the divorce, I realized I was never living my life to the fullest potential.

My grandpa encouraged me to find my truest self and I am so grateful for his love and guidance. I have since learned that I need to be me in all of my relationships. I must put energy into authentic and healthy relationships, and that no one person can provide a space to be truly me except for God. Nobody will ever know exactly what I am thinking, feeling or experiencing except for God.

Our time in college is a difficult but necessary time in our lives where we are in the process of discovering our own needs, wants, gifts, uncertainties, questions and deepest values. This journey is not easy and fear is usually the greatest obstacle. Learning that life is messy is one of the hardest realizations that I have come to in my life. We must learn to risk vulnerability to receive and contribute mercy to those around us.

The greatest lesson I have come to learn recently is that God loves us in all of our struggles and imperfections. In “The Notebook,” Noah asks Allie, “Would you stop thinking about what everyone wants? Stop thinking about what I want, what he wants, what your parents want. What do you want? What do you want?” Allie responds, “It’s just not that simple!”

Well, I am still on this journey of learning what mercy means for me and sometimes it can be extremely difficult, but once we look inward and identify what is holding us back, that’s when we can find our true self and experience God’s mercy.

Allison Hogan is a senior education major and an RA in Shipstad Hall. She can be reached at