Several months ago, I was at Target. I was in a gigantic hurry because…well, that’s how I usually am. After finding the things I went there to buy, I made my way to the checkout and, to my horror, quickly realized that I was behind a woman wanting to get a raincheck for toilet paper and was insisting that the kind she wanted was the kind that was on sale and they were out of. The cashier was trying to figure out if this was all correct information, and about a million years passed before my eyes. I was so exasperated, but there were no other lanes open, as apparently everyone had decided to take a break at the same exact time.
Noticing my frustration (after I let out an irritated sigh), the woman turned to me, touched my shoulder, and gently said, “I’m so sorry this is taking so long.” She honestly sounded sincere. But, instead of mirroring her soft attitude, I stared straight ahead, gave a tight lipped half smile, and curtly nodded my head. There was no doubt that she understood my response.
I immediately felt horrible. But I didn’t do anything about it right then. She finally left and it was my turn at the register. As I loaded the cart with my things, my heart hurt, and I hurried out to the parking lot. I anxiously scanned the cars to see whether this woman had left. I wanted to catch her. Wanted to tell her, “I’M SORRY! Please forgive me! I was cold and rude!” I ached to let this woman know that I wasn’t really that ugly person inside. But the truth of the matter is that, at that time, I was ugly.
The way home, I called my sister in hopes to get my actions justified. I told her about what happened, how I had reacted, my immediate guilt, my attempt to find her, and expected to get a little commiseration from her. Instead, she quickly said, “Wow. You really were a brat.” And I knew she was right.
Today during General Conference, President Monson gave a beautiful talk about kindness. He said, “Every day of our lives we are given opportunities to show love and kindness to those around us.”
Quoting President Kimball, he said, “We must remember that those mortals we meet in parking lots, offices, elevators and elsewhere are that portion of mankind God has given us to love and to serve. It will do us little good to speak of the general brotherhood of mankind if we cannot regard those who are all around us as our brothers and sisters.”
President Monson then shared a story of a woman who, having missed the opportunity to treat another with love said, “How I wish I had a second chance to be kind.” And, oh, how I relate to that!
Though I can’t go back and change the sad exchange I had with the woman at Target, I can take on the challenge issued today by President Monson:
Begin now, this very day, to express love to all of God’s children, whether they be our family members, our friends, mere acquaintances, or total strangers. As we arise each morning, let us determine to respond with love and kindness to whatever might come our way.