Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Scripture Therapy

I have a part-time job at Cold Stone Creamery and I usually work nights as a shift lead. Shift leads are responsible for setting the alarm and locking the door, sanitizing almost every surface of the store, counting up the tills, and are responsible for the other workers. Also, in the morning shift leads make the ice cream and set up the stone. Last night we had people coming in the store half an hour past closing. At Cold Stone, we like to stay open for people because they usually have to come from across town. We have an hour after closing to scrub brush and mop all of the floors, sanitize the stone, fill carmel and fudge bottles, wash all the dishes, put away the fruit, count up the tills and do a report, clean the bathroom, wash tables, clean all of the counters, and many other tasks. The two of us had a lot to do in half an hour aside from the fact that we were exhausted and sleepy. At eleven o'clock I had done all I could do and wrote a note to the person opening the store that we didn't have time to mix the smoothie and shake base and asked her to do it. When I got there tonight I found one of the carts on wheels with a flat surface like a countertop covered in a sticky, hardened mess from the person who made the shake and smoothie base. The cart was pulled away from it's usual place next to the wall, making it an obnoxious obstacle. It was as if she was trying to say "thanks for making me do your job." I got really frustrated. As the night progressed, I found other little things that she had done, or neglected to do, that got on my nerves. My frustration with this individual was irritated by my thoughts, which were growing more and more negative. I found myself silently criticizing the person I was working with as well as customers. When particularly rude comments surfaced in my mind, I would think of the Savior and how disappointed he would be to know I was judging and being critical of others, who weren't doing anything wrong. The thoughts kept poking their way through my attempts to think with a more positive attitude. Soon I started searching for other ways to stop these thoughts, which were beginning to seep into my attitude and mood. I suddenly thought of reading my scriptures and how I longed to have the words of the Lord drown out the rude and demeaning thoughts that I could not rid from my head. I recalled a quote that I found recently by Bruce R. McConkie about the temple. It goes like this, "Eternal life is not a name that has reference only to the unending duration of a future life; immortality is to live forever in the resurrected state, and by the grace of God all mend will gain this unending continuance of life. But only those who obey the fullness of the gospel law will inherit eternal life." At the time I could only remember the final phrase, that we can only inherit eternal life and an unending residence with Heavenly Father if we strictly obey the gospel law. Remembering this quote led me to think about scripture stories. At a later time when my heart had been softened and I was able to let go of criticism, I reflected on other ways to get rid of counterproductive thoughts. For the future I am prepared in knowing that whenever my mind is plagued with the criticism of others, I could recite the articles of faith to myself or think of a primary tune or hymn and hum it to occupy my mind.
In my earlier years when talking to my mom about bad thoughts that would not go away, she gave me an example that helps me understand the way my mind works. She compared a person's train of thoughts to a stage. There can only be one scene at a time, though scenes are complex. They are filled with dialogue, costumes, and a specific setting. When a bad thought won't go away, it's like a bad scene in the play. "You are the director so you can move on to the next scene in the play. Your mind can only concentrate on one thing, or one scene, at a time."
I appreciate you reading all the way through this post. Sorry about the length. To reward your efforts, you can have two virtual Jessica hugs and I'll give them to you in real life the next time I see you. :)


  1. I'll be happy to collect those hugs!

    I think that's why it's good to have a few scriptures or hymns memorized so you can pull them out at a moment's notice to quickly change the scene on the stage of your mind.

    There are always irritating things happening (at the work place, in school, in a relationship, in a family, with your neighbor etc.) so we get plenty of chances to practice just what you're talking about! Don't let this get you discouraged, but even after 70 years I haven't got it mastered!

  2. Thank you for sharing that! I need to learn how to change the scene--what a great metaphor.

    You are so mature to recognize and want to silence that inner negative voice.

  3. Sounds like a rough day. Great job turning it around!