March 23, 2011

Compassion Lessons Scott Johnson

Scott is a really kind hearted man.  Almost everyone who meets him loves him.  Some of his kindness comes from his mother Winnie.  But the rest may come from something that happened to him when he was a boy.  He wrote about it to his sister Kathy:
We moved from Logan to Providence in the summer between my 6th and 7th grade years in school.  The move meant that we started school in a completely new school district.  I didn’t have any friends and I was just starting Jr. High.  I caught the bus near our house in Providence.  We would ride the bus to Providence Elementary and then change buses to ride out to Hyrum to South Cache Jr. High School.  The bus going to Hyrum was segregated by grades.  The 7th graders sat in the very front, the 8th graders sat in the middle section and the 9th graders sat in the back.  There were no assigned seats; that’s just the way things sorted out. 
Since I didn’t have any friends yet, no one saved me a seat with the other 7th graders on the bus.  There was no place for me to sit.  The bus driver made me go to the back of the bus to sit with the 9th graders.  They didn’t want a 7th grader back with them.  They would let me sit down when the bus driver was looking, but when we started on our way to Hyrum, the boys would kick me off of the seat and make me sit on the floor all the way to Hyrum. 
I felt so all alone and humiliated.  I hated the idea of having to ride like that every morning to school.  I would cry at night and tell mom and dad that I didn’t want to go to school.  Looking back, it was one of the hardest and most traumatic experiences of my life.  The situation lasted for some time.  It is interesting to me how mom and dad handled it.  I am sure that it was a trial for them too.  They listened when I told them about my predicament and encouraged me, but they did not take the trial away. 
Like all difficult experiences, I learned important lessons.  I keenly understand what it is like to feel alone in a sea of people.  I know what it is like to feel that you are not wanted by the kids your age.  I hope that this knowledge makes me a more kind and caring child of God.
I can tell you that Scott is a better person because if this experience.  He went on to make many friends in his new school.  Later, he had enough friends that he was elected to offices in High School.  He learned how to make friends and be a good friend.  He practiced on the kids he knew in school.  Now he’s really good at making friends and helping people feel important.  He remembers everyone’s name, he is genuinely interested in their lives and he never lets an opportunity pass to let them know he cares about them.
Recently, he visited another ward and a young man named Luke gave a talk.  Scott thought it was a great talk.  Later, he wrote a little note to Luke and mailed it to him.  When the young man’s mom saw the note, she was amazed that Uncle Scott would take the time to do that.  She wrote me an email, saying:
Hi Melanie,
Would you please give your husband a message for me?  Today I went downstairs and in my husband's piles I found a little letter from your hubby.  It was addressed to Luke, he read it and I want Pres. Johnson to know how much it meant to him. I explained to Luke what I imagined a day in Pres. Johnson's life would be and then added that he made time to write a note to a little boy who wrote a 2 minute talk!!!  Please pass this along "Thank you very much for taking the time to write my son Luke a note!"  That meant so much to me!! and Luke!!!
With Sincere Thanks
Sometimes learning from the worst experiences in our lives make us better people.  Even when we can’t see any good coming from it at the time.  We need to learn from it and make an effort to use what we’ve learned.

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