One of the lower points in my life was the day I applied at a mattress store.
Don’t get me wrong–it eventually turned into one of the best jobs I’ve ever had and I met some of my best friends there. But at the time, with a brand new bachelor’s degree in hand, years and years of experience, and dreams upon dreams mounded in my little heart, I was disappointed that I had to apply there. The jobs I liked didn’t pay enough or weren’t hiring at all, and this job had a lot of promise to give us a good income while my husband attended nursing school.
I became depressed.
I no longer held a camera every day, I didn’t get to write much, and I had to learn a whole new skill set that proved pretty challenging, and I didn’t know if I’d even be very good at it.
I even remember one morning, sitting in traffic, my new sales tag pinned to my blouse, where I said out loud, “I guess I don’t matter anymore.”
Silly, I know. But it’s how I felt. And I honestly felt that way for a while, especially during the learning curve where I flailed without any kind of life raft for a while, completely unsuccessful at closing even the easiest of sales. But bit by bit, day by day, I learned the difference that I could make in people’s lives and why my job mattered to so many people. Most importantly, I remember the moment where I was reminded why I matter–regardless of circumstance or profession.
I helped an elderly man one day find the right bed and he happened to be a professional photographer when he was younger. We talked for quite a while and he told stories and we laughed and he eventually bought everything I fit him for. It was a great experience, but I eventually moved on from it and didn’t think about it. Not even a month later, his daughter called my store and told me he had died in his bed the night before and she wanted to personally call and thank me.
She said that he had talked about me to her, telling her that it was nice to feel important again–that most sales people just treat him like a senile old man who won’t buy anything expensive enough. He was mostly ignored. But with me, she said, he felt important again and he could tell that’s because I was a child of God and recognized the same in him. She said he told her that was the only reason he spent the money he did, and she was grateful that I did that for her dad.
After many tears over the phone, I went to the back room and wrote a reminder on the white board we kept on the wall: “Everyone who walks through our doors matter. Just like you matter.”
It was more of my reminder than anything. I had forgotten why I really matter. It has nothing to do with occupation or a degree or a social status. It has nothing to do with my education or where I live or what I drive. It has nothing to do with how “important” this world considers me compared to everyone else. It’s simply because I’m a child of God.
And I matter to Him.
When we come to that realization, we’ll instantly treat others with more kindness, more gentleness, and more respect simply because we know they are a child of God too.
During this General Conference (a conference the LDS church has semi-annually) I have been reminded of my identity and I feel grateful that I was able to learn those lessons young.
I don’t sell mattresses anymore and the days of working 12 hours without a camera in hand are over. I’m finally doing what I love with my own business, but I know now that my business, my hobbies, my experience and my resume don’t define me whatsoever. And I know that’s why Heavenly Father humbled me, placing me in a circumstance I wouldn’t choose for myself, and breaking down my pride, all to remind me that my worth doesn’t change. To this day, I thank God for that circumstance the most.
“God sees us as we truly are–and he sees us worthy of rescue,” President Uchtdorf said.
And even President Monson said, “Remember who you are and what God expects you to become.”
This is how we start. By remembering that. It is our first step.
You might feel like you aren’t much. Maybe you can’t think of any talents that you have. Maybe you’re getting older and can’t do what you used to do. Perhaps you work three jobs to keep up with rent and none of them are what you want to be doing. Maybe you are a waitress during the day, studying to be a nurse at night. Maybe you are lots of things.
But despite it all, none of them matter as much as the fact that you were created by the Creator, loved by the maker of Love, cheered on by the most intelligent, all-encompassing being of the universe.
So if you forgot, let me remind you.
Yes, you might be a mother, a father, a caregiver, a doctor, a plumber, a photographer, a writer, a teacher, a lawyer, a bishop, a gardener.
But more than that you’re something that matters much, much more.
You are a child of God.
And that makes you absolutely, beautifully divine.