Clay feet

By Mary Ann Hughes

Grace Notes

Fifty-five years ago, I sat in a high school theology class and listened as my teacher talked about the gift of sensitivity.

I knew that I didn’t have a drop of it, and I prayed to be blessed with some.

My prayers have finally been answered, and that’s good – and it’s bad.

I have developed a sensitive side to my personality. When I talk to people, I can often feel their pain at a deep level.

Sometimes, I can see through manipulative behavior pretty quickly.

Sometimes, the gift of sensitivity can be so discerning that I can see clay feet. That often causes me to recoil or withdraw because I find myself sitting in such a lofty place of judgment.

That’s certainly not what I prayed for; it’s certainly not a good quality. It’s very far from biblical.

In Matthew’s Gospel, we are reminded how easily we say, “Let me remove that splinter from your eye,” even though we have a wooden beam in our own eye.

We are advised to “remove the beam from our own eye first.” Only then, we are reminded, can we see clearly enough to remove a splinter from another person’s eye.

That’s good advice. Sometimes, I think the clay in my feet rises almost to my knees, and that the pole in my own eye is taller than the telephone pole in my backyard.

When I remember my own sins over my long life, there are many.

Some days, snippets of uncomfortable memories fill my head. Other days, they crash into me like waves in a storm. There are ugly memories of people I hurt and things I did.

Perhaps the answer is mercy. Remembering God’s mercy.

There is a beautiful song called “Your Mercy Like Rain.” Here are a few of the lyrics: “Let me taste Your mercy like rain on my face; here in my life show me Your peace. Let us see with our own eyes Your day breaking bright. Come O Morning; come, O Light!” (“Your Mercy Like Rain” by Rory Cooney).

We know that God is kind and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in kindness.

When we focus on His mercy towards us, not His judgment, we can feel His compassion.

Maybe then we can remember that we are each His precious children.