I had the opportunity to share this story on my private social media in February after watching a rendition of “Come Unto Jesus” by Madilyn Page, and I felt like the Christmas season would be a good opportunity to share this story again here on my blog.
Once upon a time I had a Saturday shift at a convenience store attached to the university bookstore where I worked a few years ago. Saturdays were deep-clean days because there weren’t a lot of people on campus on the weekend, so I happened to be kneeling on the floor scrubbing out one of the store’s trash cans. A well-dressed man in a suit came into the store, bent over me, laughing, and said that if I kept doing “that” (scrubbing the trash can, I presume), people might start throwing money down at me—and he gestured as though tossing something inside the bin I was cleaning. I didn’t understand what this meant, and so I just laughed with him and shrugged. When he was ready to check out with items he wanted to purchase, I went to the counter to help him and he said, “oh, look, it’s the homeless lady.” Inside I felt incredibly hurt and offended at this man’s sense of status over me (even if he might have thought it was just a joke), while outwardly my goal, as I laughed again nervously with him, was to get him checked out as cordially and quickly as I could manage so that he would leave.
Immediately after he left, a very distinct thought came into my head that the most powerful man in the universe—Jesus Christ—would never treat me this way. In fact, He would be very happy to kneel by my side on the floor to scrub trash cans with me. I then had another thought from the Holy Ghost asking me whether I could hold onto that image of Jesus Christ kneeling by my side, and choose not to be offended by this other gentleman. Choosing “not to be offended” didn’t mean telling myself what this gentleman said to me was okay or “not a big deal.” It certainly was not okay, and the hurt was real for several hours, even after this thought about the breadth and magnitude of Jesus Christ’s power. But as I engaged in the mental and emotional exercise of continuing to guide my thoughts to what the Savior of the World thought of me, and away from what this other man thought of me each time it cycled up in my head, the literal therapy of redirecting my thoughts helped me work through that hurtful experience until it had no power to bubble up and disrupt my peace unprovoked anymore.
I love Jesus Christ, whom I believe knows us and cares about what might seem like our most insignificant hurts and invisible struggles so deeply because He died for us. In the scriptures He reminds us that we are engraved on the palms of His hands. I have no doubt that includes the other gentleman who said hurtful things to me that day, and I’m grateful for the knowledge that Jesus will help others I’ve intentionally or unintentionally hurt in my life too, so they can thrive again despite me. I’m grateful for the principle of repentance, and for the healing power of the Savior in my life. And I’m grateful for the small moments when my heart is raw and hurting, and He lets me know by the smallest and simplest of means that He knows me, and He is there so I can come to Him.
In case you need to know you’re loved today, you can watch Madilyn Page’s version of “Come Unto Jesus” for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
#LightTheWorld #HearHim #ComeUntoJesus
And Happy Holidays to friends of various faiths!