Monastic Monday: Mercy for Dummies (and Jerks)

As announced last Monday, there is a guest post from Sarah Carey.  You can find out a little bit more about Sarah here (from last week’s Monastic Monday post).  You can also find out more about Sarah and her time in South Korea at her blog  Thanks again Sarah for sharing your experiences with us.  This is where I (Jesse) leave you and Sarah takes over.

I am one of the nicest, most hateful people you’ll ever meet. For example, if I’m flying on an airplane, I’ll think of a way I can fly the plane better than the pilot. In college, I took special care to secretly, quietly judge those who did not study as much and as hard as me. Their less than desirable grades? Their own faults. In fact, I believed that if the world was more like me, then the world would probably be a more desirable place to live.

Then I moved to South Korea.

If you don’t already know the story, in March 2012 I was selected to serve as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant (ETA) to South Korea. In July 2012, I packed my bags and headed across the USA and Pacific Ocean to live in a small Asian country. Shortly after arriving in Korea, I was subject to the whims of another society and the ways of another culture.

Unlike my position in my home country, where I thought of myself as somewhat intelligent, highly motivated, and career minded, I was now in a different place that cared little about the person I was in the United States. This is how a kind, jerky, Benedictine postulant like myself learned the Christian value of mercy.

Throughout my Fulbright orientation and even after I arrived at my teaching placement, I have been at the mercy of others. I have to trust that my English-speaking co-teacher will assist me when I ask, or that the employee at the convenience store will give me the correct amount of change. In a world where I am the linguistic minority, I have to depend on the mercy, grace, and kindness of others.

In the end, though I had always prided myself on being a “good” Christian that stayed in line and kept all the rules, I still did not know mercy. It took a move across the world, across an entire ocean, to understand what Our Lord meant when He commanded His followers to have mercy. Just because I was smart in college and had my supposed act together meant nothing in terms in my relationship with others. Sometimes, in order for good Christians like myself to understand mercy, I needed to be taken off my pedestal and shown a world that vastly different than my own.

About Jesse

I am a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary with a Masters of Arts in Theology focusing on Church History. I am a Third Order Benedictine monk, in the Company of Jesus. I am married to a wonderful woman, we just had a baby Michaela Rose. You can follow me and be alerted of new blog post by following me on Twitter @jtalexanderiv. Or following this blog.
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