To Crawl Deep Within Another's Skin: True Celebrities V

Photo: "Tear" by Leigh (Flickr)

 "Tell me mother, why did you do it?"

"I did it because I love you Temisan."

A coarse but sorrowful laugh spilled out of me. My mother called Chinedu last night and verbally abused him. And she calls that "love."

"Why did you have to say those nasty things to him mum? You must know that I still love him!"

"Honey, I was only protecting you. Who does he think he is, dumping you like that?"

"Mother, let me tell you something that I haven't told anyone since he broke up with me."

"And what can that be?"

"I forgave him even before he broke up with me. He's been through a lot mum. You don't know where he came from. You don't know him like I did. He came from a broken home ma! He never had any role model of "stability." His life was a disaster just waiting to happen, until he found me. But for the seven years we dated it did not matter what I said to let him know that I loved him, he still was afraid. Afraid to love me one hundred percent. So ma, you didn't have to say those things to, you didn't. But I also understand where you're coming from."

* * * * * *

The preceding parts of the "True Celebrity Series":
Part I: Here
Part II: Here
Part III: Here
Part IV: Here

Today's celebrities are those who crawl into the skins of other people a.k.a "the merciful."

"Blessed are the merciful,
for they shall obtain mercy."
Matthew 5: 7

You know, a lot of us think of mercy only as showing compassion to those who do us wrong or to those who have less than we do in life (for instance the beggar on the street, the friend who asks us for money, the person who refuses to pay us back, the one who chooses to repay our kindness with evil deeds, and so on and so forth).

But guess what? My journey of finding the Greek origins of the Beatitudes led me to an excerpt which I think does the explanation for "merciful" justice. The Greek word for "merciful" is "Eleemon" which also means "merciful" like it does in English. But I found a commentary that spoke about the Hebrew/Aramaic version of the word (the language Jesus spoke on the day He talked about these celebrities). The Hebrew word is "Chesedh."

A Hebrew Kind of Day:

William Barclay does a great job in describing what this Hebrew word means:
"[Chesedh] does not mean only to sympathize with a person in the popular sense of the term; it does not mean simply to feel sorry for some in trouble. Chesedh [sic], mercy, means the ability to get right inside the other person's skin until we can see things with his eyes, think things with his mind, and feel things with his feelings. Clearly this is much more than an emotional wave of pity; clearly this demands quite a deliberate effort of the mind and of the will. It denotes a sympathy which is not given, as it were, from outside, but which comes from a deliberate identification with the other person, until we see things as he sees them, and feel things as he feels them (p. 103)."
Skin-Crawling, Not Your Usual Kind of Mercy:

So today, I learned something extremely important: "showing mercy goes beyond merely forgiving or showing compassion." It actually requires us to crawl deeper inside the skin of another person and see life through his or her eyes. And when we do this, our hearts melt and we understand where they're coming from. It's easy to be merciful when we wear the shoes of someone else and not spend our whole lives just wearing our own shoes.

Have you ever had to crawl into someone's skin just to see why they did what they did, or why they are the way they are? If you've almost been drawn to tears just because you understand, and if you have taken one step further and showed mercy to them, then you are God's celebrity, and He will also show you mercy. What do you say? I'd love to read your comments.


seye said...

Makes a whole lot of sense. But really how do you have mercy for/on someone without trying to like crawl into their skin?

Gosh i miss my Dake's. Remind me to bring it to this city next time I go home

Kafo said...

i have to admit that showing mercy to the needy i can handle, to the poor and destitute and homeless i can handle, but to the irresponsible-never-listening-to-advice-people
yeah let's just say i can't empathize at all

but yeah we can't selectively show mercy

Unknown said...

Hmmm... "the ability to get right inside the other person's skin until we can see things with his eyes, think things with his mind, and feel things with his feelings" Thanks Jay, for the research.

I love that definition. John Maxwell said in his book "Relationship 101", "99% of times, people doing wrong, if only we understood their motives at that time of action, think they are doing somewhat good"

It takes a measure of understanding to see that the initial state of mind of the person doing wrong could actually be a good intention - although often selfish... I used to have a nonchalant friend. He just doesn't care. He rarely shows remorse for any wrong he does. After losing my temp several times, I began to see things from his eyes afterwards such that when he wrongs me, I'd be like... "Oh, thats him". I wouldnt even hold it till the nest second. It take effort, grace and sometimes time... to be able to get to that level with people though. His grace is sufficient.


AliceDCL said...

thats deep
i guess feeling the other persons pain or walking in their shoes is what you mean

and since God is our merciful father imagine what he goes thru cos of us

this beatitudes series
has taught me a lot

Favorsheart said...

Truely, this is a different kind of mercy.

Lots of times its easy to judge someone by how they act or how they speak or think but if we would "crawl under their skin" and be them for a while, we would easily understand why. and then we can easily make excuses for their actions.

But on the flip side, how do you know when someone really needs mercy and when someone is intentionally just being unco-operative or mean or hurtful? I guess only God can truely reveal the content/motive of a man's heart. Like Shakespear said "...there's no axe to cut the mind's constriction on the face".

That should not stop us from showing mercy anyway, cos the Bible says God will show mercy to you if you show mercy to others. So maybe its not our responsiblity to know if the person we're showing mercy to is genuine or not.

Thanks Jaycee!

Unknown said...

love the way you write. your first sentences, wow, attention grabbing. interesting post.

daylight said...

there is a saying that, before you criticize another, you need to walk a mile in their shoes. True. Mercy is good. But sometimes, try as you may, you can't truly walk in some shoes. It's just impossible to feel what they've been through.

Taking your story in isolation, showing mercy is not necessarily forgiving the breakup as being a result of his background. People need to take responsibilities for their actions. That you've never experienced 'stability' should be no excuse for breaking another's heart. We do not all have perfect backgrounds and if we live our lives based on where we're coming from, then a lot of us would be degenerates.

When we realize there is a problem, then we should set about getting help and working towards breaking free from the past and looking to the future.

Jennifer A. said...

@Seye...I think what people do is mostly brush the issue off their shoulders. To the world that might be showing mercy, but the fact is that mercy is not truly experienced without crawling into others' skins. already know how I love your realness. Yes, as crazy as it seems, "Mercy does not select its recipients."

@LDP...I like John Maxwell's statements. Seems to me like you're well read. Trying to get to that level. (thanks for the retweet too). :)

@BBB...yes you're right, that's what I tried to illustrate. I can count how many times I've envisioned walking in someone else's shoes...I want God to teach me better ways to do that, really.

@Favor's Heart...the best part of your responses are the "flip-sides," believe it or not...they help me grow. Still, I've seen and heard many scenarios where we can trace a person's hurtful actions to their history of pain. I know I once watched a CNN documentary of the "Mind of a Killer." Weird findings, I tell ya!, thank you. I usually don't know what to do with comments such as yours, but God bless you for encouraging the "pressing on."

@Daylight...I have to say one thing. I always look forward to your analysis. In fact I agree that the written story does not do "Mercy" justice. What if I went on to describe Temisan's full thought process? Then you would understand why her reactions to the break up were actually truly merciful. But I resist, for the sake of conciseness. Thank you so much for pointing that out.

Giagerry said...

"It's easy to be merciful when we wear the shoes of someone else and not spend our whole lives just wearing our own shoes. "
love it sister!
well written--its indeed a conscious effort to understand and see where dey come from, which sometimes can be hard but still possible!

Harry said...

This is really cool... it is like Jesus coming to take our place and instead of us dying...He died... he showed us mercy by seeing life through our eyes and he realized that we needed help and only He could give us that help we truly needed...

This is amazing Jaycee...totally amazing

Anye said...

I pray that God continues to speak to you through his word, and that you continue to let him use you to touch many a life that thirsts for the revelation of his word. Much blessings my dear. Thank you for the elaboration on what it is to be merciful. Keep on being a light!

Mwajim Al said...

Yet again Jaycee, another eye-opening interpretation of the beatitude... love it!!! Yet, it is soooo soooo hard to 'crawl deep under another's skin'... a new prayer request is for God to give me a merciful heart!!!

DayDreamer said...

I've heard a teaching on getting into the other person's shoes before I go off angry at them, but I didn't quite connect the dots to this beatitude. Thanks for putting the spotlight on this. I can't say I have this one penned down. Most times my flesh rises up and I only want to see things my way. And it's usually my way or the highway even though I hear that soft voice inside me telling me to calm it down...

jhazmyn said...

This is one lesson I learnt throughout last year...i still learn it daily

Michael said...

Jaycee, I think you are spot on. It's hard to understand what someone is experiencing if we haven't been there before. Taking a step back and "skin crawling" is an excellent idea.

I think it also kind of sheds light on taking up your own cross and following me.

@pastorMichaelP said...

That Chesedh

"means the ability to get right inside the other person's skin until we can see things with his eyes, think things with his mind, and feel things with his feelings"

Tha defn makes so much sense. No wonder then it is said of the Lord that (Heb 4:15)
"For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin."

And that He is Immanuel ( God in Human skin)

So how does one do that? Since he further "crawled" into you by the Holy Spirit- hence ensuring continual mercy, the only way we can achieve the same level of mercy, is to walk in the Spirit ( i.e. listen to and obey the Spirit). Then, the Spirit who sees the other person, leads you to know how to handle them, no matter what they have/have not done.

What that means, of course, is that without the Holy Spirit indwelling one, one can NEVER trully be Chesedh.

sosexy said...

This is quite cool. I totally like the words you used.
I find it hard forgiving someone when have been hurt..Thanks for the update..

Adeoluwa - NBB said...

"showing mercy goes beyond merely forgiving or showing compassion." i love this very true. The Subject of mercy really amazes me. Our God is a merciful God.
Crawling deep withing another's skin another insight. God Bless you.

Rainyjoy said...

God is full of mercy and we are God's children who have been created in His image, so therefore we should be merciful just like Him (He has provided the grace). I've learned that the more merciful you are, the more you become at rest in God and peaceful with yourself. i've had some bad experiences with people but somehow i just see my self being more forgiving and loving towards them and trusting God to help them change. the truth lies with maturity, really , i for one think that i have come to that level where i can let go easily of people who hurt me because i won't let anything steal my joy away...
KJV psalm 119:165- 'Great peace have they which love Your law and nothing shall offend them'.
jaycee thanks for sharing.. nice 1

Anonymous said...

this is a difficult one when the person you are being merciful to is causing you pain and you respond with mercy... takes alot - real hard but difficult

Anonymous said...

lol - typo, i meantto write...real hard but possible... like how Temisan responded when her boyfriend dumped her but instead of focusing on her own hurt, she was being merciful towards him for his actions. ahhh it can be difficult! lol... a true spirit of Christ - i try

Remi, United Kingdom said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Remi, United Kingdom said...

True word!!! Yes, we can only show mercy, unless we craw into their skin. It's like we can only see what God wants us to see when we see through and with His eyes.

I always pray to God that even those who seemingly (to the natural man) don't deserve mercy for their foolishness and all, that He should give me mercy towards them. Why? Who knows where they have been or what they have been through to get them to be like that.. or what spirit or demon has taken hold of them to manifest some terrible behaviour.

Mercy also is looking beyond the physical to see the burden of the other, even when they are non the wiser!

Thanks for sharing luv... hope you are having a great week. :-) x

tolani said...

Hello, I'm a first-time poster but I came across this blog during a miscellaneous Google search last year and I absolutely love it. I was compelled to comment on this particular topic because sometimes people forget that we are not meant to do such things as "crawl under another's skin" in our own strength. Trust me, if you attempt to live this out in your own strength you will be burned out, frustrated and disappointed. I've tried to live this in my own strength, and I ended up feeling abused and burnt out myself.

Make no mistake about it, this level of mercy is really not a call to LIVE in someone else's shoes, it's a call to DIE. It is biologically impossible to get under someone else's skin and live. This Beatitude is really a call to die. And the only person who can truly live in someone else's skin in this way is Jesus. He is the only one who has ever really done this; human effort always comes short. We need to allow Jesus to live chesedh through us, we cannot do it ourselves. We look at the example of his life, he was literally the personification of this. He empathized with the poor so much that he actually said that anyone who ignored them was hurting him. If you consider the pain that even one poor person goes through, and multiply that by billions and billions, that is a LOT of weight for someone to willingly put on themselves, and this is what He has bound himself to do for eternity. He empathized with the lost so much that he offered his own body as spiritual sustenance just so that we could be a part of him. There's just so much in His example that we can glean from. If we truly follow Him, we will be like Him, but to be like Him we must allow Him to live through us.

Anyways, please keep all the beautiful writings coming! You always have so much wisdom, and I thoroughly enjoy your blogs and I am so, so blessed by them. God bless you! :)

Jennifer A. said...

@Gee..yes, it is indeed a conscious effort. I pray God helps us to be conscious of it whenever there's a need to be.

@Harry...Jesus is the perfect example for this, eh? I concur. will not be anything different for you, you will be a shining beacon for all to see in Jesus Name. Amen.

@Mwajim...please I join you in this prayer point...I want to have a merciful heart too.

@Homie...two days ago my hubby was just informing me that I like to speak my mind too "fast" (is what he said) I usually don't think about entering someone else's shoes before responding. From today, I ask for God's grace that this fact will change. The only thing constant in this world is change, and I am embracing it. The only one who doesn't change (the same yesterday, today, and forever) is God.

@Jhazmyn...I actually read Luke 14 today and in it Jesus talked about "taking up our crosses and following Him." It's a daily thing, I'm realizing. There's no day that we won't strive to follow Him...thanks Jhazmyn for sharing.

@Michael...ha ha ha...(check out the above response to Jhazmyn)..."taking up our crosses." Thanks P.Michael. (above) also mentioned that Jesus is the perfect example for this definition, and here you are providing a scripture to back up that statement. "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses". I love that scripture, it makes me even more grateful because I know He truly wore my dirty shoes and took my place on the cross.'s only by God's grace that we forgive deep hurts. Your flesh will fight to prevent you from forgiving, but in the end if you "submit" to God's spirit, you will find out that it will be easier to let go.

@NBB...another insight I was happy to learn too on Sunday/Monday. Thanks NBB.

@RainyJoy...KJV psalm 119:165- 'Great peace have they which love Your law and nothing shall offend them'. Guess what? I've never come across that scripture before. WOW!!! So it's even in the bible that when we have God's peace we won't be offended? There is nothing strange in God's eyes, He knows everything we're capable of as human beings and He has invested in His word to reach us in whatever state we are. There is no situation or issue that God has no response to.

@LilMissThang..."hard but possible"...I like that. A quote I like to say a lot to my friends is, "it's hard but doable." Similar to what you've just said...thank you so much girl.

@Remi...that's a whole different (and wonderful) way to think about it: "Looking at someone through God's eyes." This way, we will identify them by their potentials and not their current status quo. "Looking beyond the physical."

@Tolani..."Make no mistake about it, this level of mercy is really not a call to LIVE in someone else's shoes, it's a call to DIE. We need to allow Jesus to live chesedh through us, we cannot do it ourselves" Now this is what I call "realness" and being "down-to-earth." I feel like I want to sit at your feet and listen to you talk about the passions of Jesus and why He did what He did. I'm just glad you said something because every one of us can learn from your comment. I feel that we can exhibit "mercy" by allowing God to transform us into His image on a daily basis. Oh Lord, we are SO IMPERFECT, but I am CONFIDENT that there is nothing impossible with You!!! Thank you Ms. Tolani.

Formerly stealth reader said...

hmm interesting...........i dont know if i have completely crawled under someone else's skin.
but i used to think i had a "fault" .......someone would hrt me or som1 wuld do something, and after awhile i will keep wondering y..............trying to put myself in their shoes. (used to call it my objective behaviour, thing is i always express it with less emotion descibed here by you lol oh well i am more downplaying it, i hereby accept it and will strive to be a better beacon of mercy)

Afronuts said...

Putting myself in other people's shoes has always helped me with forgiveness.

Sometimes its hard to do so but thanks to the Holy Spirit who helps me out in times like that

Jennifer A. said...

@Formerly Stealth Reader...abeg you're not even weird at're closer to being "merciful" than many of us. I too like to try to read people's brains. Someone (I can't remember who) once asked me, "If there was one thing you could invent, what would that be?" My answer was "Brain Readers!"

@Afronuts...I'm really glad you've been able to do've landed on God's list of celebrities (Beatitudes). I think each day is a test we have to pass. :)

K said...

This is so true! I guess it's hardest to do with the people that have hurt us.

Jennifer A. said...

@K..I know what you mean...especially if you come across them every day and you have to look into their eyes.