We’ve all seen the motivational posters posted around schools or our doctor’s offices:
At 211 degrees, water is hot. At 212 degrees, it boils. And with boiling water, comes steam. And with steam, you can power a train. One extra degree makes all the difference.
This last week, I saw a variation that I really liked, it continued with:
The Power of Extra Effort
2 extra acts of kindness weekly—plant 104 more seeds of generosity each year.
15 extra minutes a day—creates over 90 hours each year for what’s most important to you.
1 extra contact daily—sparks 180 more personal connections every 6 months.
1 extra risk each week—leads to 53 more opportunities every year for excitement and possibility.
That’s really all this journey to be more like the Good Samaritan is for me—I was already a kind, loving person, as most of us are. With this blog challenge, though, the Lord asked me to give Him a little extra—one more degree of effort.
Through the parable of the Good Samaritan, our Savior teaches us that the non-involvement of the priest & Levite is a sin. Christ teaches us to be merciful and kind to those in need—to be generous and loving when we see people suffering … to give the extra degree of effort.
As I was standing in the check-out lane yesterday, a middle-aged man came into the lane next to mine. Clutching a large package of toilet paper, he looked genuinely distressed and was acting oddly, which is why he caught my attention.
I watched as he approached the line, backed slowly away, hid behind the candy stand, then crept around to look at his line again. He examined the floor closely—almost bent double as he examined the tiles, then backed away before re-approaching, this time examining the candy stand as he crept around it. He did this several times before he eventually stood in line—about 3 feet away from the lady who was already in line.
The woman looked to be in her sixties or seventies and had quite a few items to purchase. She distractedly motioned for him to go in front of her. She very kindly recognized that he had only his one item, so she was trying to let him go in front of her.
He began to back away and started stuttering, “N-n-no th-th-thank you. I-I-I am fine.”
She looked at him now, really looked, and got irritated that he wasn’t taking advantage of her gesture of kindness. She now insisted that he go in front of her.
He backed further away, looking terrified, “N-n-no th-th-thank you. I-I-I have O-O-OCD.”
I don’t think she understood him because she very tartly informed him, “Just. Go. In. Front. Of. Me. Hurry up! I have things to do, too, you know!”
At this point, he looked about ready to burst into tears, so I intervened, “I think he would prefer to wait. Sometimes when someone has OCD, it’s easier for them to be alone in line.”
Then I looked at him and said, “It’s okay, some of my family members struggle with mental illness too—it can’t be easy to live with these compulsions.”
The woman shrugged and continued getting her own purchases completed.
The man … he just looked at me with such gratitude in his expression that I about gave him a hug right then and there … except I didn’t want to upset him.
I bagged my own large amount of groceries up into my cart, and watched as he continued his halting, painfully paranoid completion of his own purchase. My heart hurt at how difficult his life must be—to always feel like you HAVE to do these things or else something terrible will happen to you. To always be looked at like you’re crazy, but you have no control or choice to do other than what you are doing. Impatience and judgment are your usual interaction with others. My heart just ached.
As he walked past me, he again stopped and looked at me with such an expression of gratitude, “Th-th-thank you for understanding.” It was the most humbling and touching moment of my week … to know that by simply showing compassion—this fellow journeyman on the path of life was so very, very touched.
Before this experiment … before turning up my own inner heat and adding an extra degree of effort, my initial instinct would probably have been to notice, but not speak up. Perhaps I would have covertly watched and worried that maybe he was going to go crazy on someone. Perhaps I would have hurried through, anxious to put as much distance between myself and someone who was clearly unstable as possible. Perhaps I would have averted my eyes and hoped that by looking inconspicuous, he would take no notice of me. Perhaps I would have sinned.
Because by doing all of those things, I would have been following those the Savior condemned in the Parable of the Good Samaritan—the priest and the Levite. I would not have followed the Good Samaritan’s example of simply loving and serving, without thought to myself and without judgment upon the traveler wounded and abandoned.
Today don’t criticize actions or circumstances—let that be your extra degree.
“There is really no way we can know the heart, the intentions, or the circumstances of someone who might say or do something we find reason to criticize. Thus the commandment: ‘Judge Not.’”-President Thomas S. Monson
This speech by our prophet is a wonderful resource! For the complete speech on charity, please visit: https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2010/10/charity-never-faileth?lang=eng
Growing up all over the world gave Emlee Taylor an opportunity to see the incredible differences the Lord created in humanity; and even better, the passions we all share as members of the human race: love for family, faith, & a desire to make a difference. Emlee lives life with passion—focusing her time now on raising four children and teaching them to recognize truth and to live true to that truth, regardless of others’ expectations. Emlee is passionately in love with her bestest friend and husband of more than 20 years.