Seventy Times Seven

So I found myself texting this to one of my best friends the other day: 

“I’ve been so embarrassed to ask for prayer because sometimes it feels like my life is just perpetual drama. With all the financial loss Ryan and I walked through after Addison Road stuff and then walking the road of losing Maggie and Ellen a few years later (my sister’s daughters who died at birth in October 2014) it just feels like it should be the end of the 'hard stuff.' That there shouldn’t be more and if there is, it’s somehow my fault.” 

I told her “I have this little voice inside of me that tells me I’ve used up my allotment of sympathy and prayers; that life should henceforth be easy and painless and perfectly put together because I’ve maxed out my quota for pain and people are tired of hearing about it already." 

(Never mind that I am tired of living it already.) 

Against all the blaring sirens in my heart and soul telling me I was “too much” and “out of turns to ask for help” and I just needed to “be quiet, suck it up and handle it on my own”…  

I told her...

“But I need prayers in this season because my heart is breaking in a new kind of way that I didn’t know was possible. Who knew there were more ways for it to break? And I cringe asking for prayers, because I wish more than anyone it was all put together already and I didn’t need them. But I do. So can you pray for me? Again?” 

As I texted those words, God so tenderly seemed to respond in my soul, “Who put a limit on mercy, Jenny? Was it me? Did I say you were out of turns for compassion, grace and love? Who told you that you were a burden and that people were weary of walking alongside you?"

Peter asked Jesus, “Lord, how many times should I forgive this brother who sins against me? Up to seven times?” 

Jesus looks Peter in the eye and blows his mind. “I tell you not just seven, but seventy times seven.” 

Jesus looked me in the eye and whispered the same thing over my heart this week. 

Who am I to limit how many times I can be on the receiving end of mercy and grace and forgiveness and prayers? Should I receive the tender and fierce prayers of my community only seven times? Or seventy times seven? 

God himself is reminding me: if forgiveness is not limited, neither is mercy. 

Or prayers. Or grace. Or love. Or compassion. 

Do I deserve it? Have I earned it? Do I need to re-pay it? Will I have to ask again? Am I a burden? This week I am practicing the art of silencing all these questions and leaning into the grace of friends who have not once shamed me and told me to “just be well already.” Friends who have stood beside me and not grown weary in their love and prayers. 

And I am standing in awe of a God who keeps whispering “seventy times seven” over me. 

Maybe you need to be reminded today that seventy times seven is for you too. 

Maybe you need to offer more than seven shots at grace to someone in your life. 

Maybe God needs to step into your shame and fear and “people are SO tired of hearing this story from me” thoughts and remind you that this whole Gospel thing? It’s about mercy... 

and mercy and mercy and mercy and mercy… the unlimited, never-runs-dry, seventy times seven kind.