Justice and Mercy walk into a bar.
Justice overhears a customer order “another Shirley Temple, please.” Barkeep reminds the customer that he hasn’t paid for his last two yet.
Justice grabs the customer by the collar, yells, “You can’t pay your bill? You’re outta here!” and kicks him out the door.
Mercy goes out and drags the customer back in, orders a Shirley Temple for him, pays for it and pays his back tab as well.
Then, turning to Justice, Mercy grabs him by the collar, yells “You may be right, but why do you always have to be such a self-righteous, retentive, heartless jerk about it!?” and kicks him out the door.
Then Mercy goes out, drags Justice back in, puts salve on his scrapes, and buys him – and everyone else in the bar – a free Shirley Temple.
Which do you think are true about this (little lame) anecdote?
A) Neither Justice nor Mercy behaved very well.
B) Justice and Mercy behaved exactly as they should have, with Mercy having more chutzpah than he generally gets credit for.
C) In the end the blessings of a Temple are available to all.
This little romp leaves me musing on a couple wrestles I’ve had with the concepts of justice and mercy.
I learned about one in our Marriage and Family Relations Class taught in our Illinois ward by my friend, the fabulous Dr. Jennifer Finlayson-Fife. One of the many challenges she says couples face is the insistence on “being right.”
Maybe you balk at the idea of letting some ridiculous pronouncement come out of your spouse’s mouth without the appropriate – and just – correction being made. I mean, really. To just let something that wrong/irrelevant/ungrammatical/insensitive, etc. go by unchecked? Never! The cause of truth is at stake!
Or maybe one of you trots out a parade of your partner’s past gaffes or mistakes whenever any new evidence of imperfection surfaces. Gotta hammer home the proof: one of you is perfect and the other, obviously, is not.
Yet, these situations where “justice” constantly trumps, if not mercy, at least kindness can corrode relationships. Sometimes the notion that you have to be right needs to be slapped upside the head. Use judgment, of course, but seek for connection, not for needing to be right all the time.
The other wrestle springs from my quibble with 2 Nephi 2:27. In this verse we learn that we are free to “choose liberty and eternal life….or to choose captivity and death.” For me, most of my choices are not so stark. They are not between a good choice and a bad choice, but between two good choices. As my son used to say “Who would take who in a fight?”: Prayer or action? Certainty or faith? Personal responsibility or delegation? Leniency or demanding high standards?
And even Justice or Mercy?
What experiences have you had with holding on to or relinquishing the need to “be right” in a relationship? With choices between good and bad? With choices between two goods? And, in particular, with Justice and Mercy?