6 words changed their hearts, and that changes everything

Published 2:35 am Saturday, November 17, 2018

A change of heart changes everything. Jane and Anne discovered this one cold, rainy Thanksgiving eve.

Ideally, Thanksgiving is the time we thank God for all our blessings. Even so, holiday stress can be overwhelming—coordinating everyone’s schedules, shopping for the big feast, relatives who don’t always get along, and then preparing the meal.

Jane and Anne didn’t know each other before that Wednesday night, but one unforgettable incident changed them forever.

Both women had left work early, certain they’d beat the grocery store insanity. The parking lot was completely full as each arrived. The women were forced to park a block away, down opposite side streets. They hiked back in the wet cold, grumbling along with everyone else making the same trek.

Then the store was sheer madness—Anne grabbed the last of the celery, snagging two bags.

“No more celery?” The woman behind her panicked. “How can I make dressing without celery?”

“I know, right?” Anne hurried past her.

Across the store, Jane grabbed the remaining boxes of butter.

Shoppers nearby shrieked. “The butter is gone?”

Jane nodded. “It’s awful!”

Exhausted, both Anne and Jane finally hurried from opposite sides of the store to the check-out lines. Each stopped abruptly, seeing the lines backed down into the grocery aisles.

Anne moved into the second lane groaning. Jane entered lane four, angrily eyeing the closed number three check-out.

“Seriously,” Jane said loudly.

“We need help up here!” Anne shouted.

A manager finally appeared, opening lane three. “Take the next person.”

Anne raced from her lane as Jane cut out of hers, both banging their carts head on, jamming the entrance to the lane.

“I was here first,” Jane said. That was true. Anne had just barely blocked her.

“Remember who called for the manager?” Anne said.

Both women shoved their buggies forward again and again, making an awful clanging sound, trying to force the other aside.

“Move!” Anne said.

“I was first!” Jane said.

The arguing got louder, each refusing to back down.

A young woman with a baby on her hip left her shopping cart and stepped between them.

“What?” both women said, giving their carts an extra shove.

“It’s Thanksgiving,” she said.

The two glared at her, boiling mad. Even so, the young woman stood her ground. She quietly spoke one sentence to them.

Oh, yes. Each tried to respond, but that sentence had struck hard. The two women stopped and stood still.

Jane backed up first. “So—sorry,” she said, barely able to speak, choking on heavy emotion.

Anne also backed away. “Me, too.”

Jane silently turned her buggy, pushing it to the rear of the store. Anne did the same, tears glazing her eyes.

Jane handed the butter away. Anne did the same with her celery.

Each entered the rear of the two longest lines and waited patiently, both wiping away tears, silently grieving.

“What happened?” one woman after another whispered to each other.

“What did the young mother say?”

Gradually the words made their way back through the lines. The young woman had reminded the two of something vastly important to Christians. Yet it’s forgotten every day. Every day. All day long. Forgotten.

We fight to get our way, insist on being treated fairly, rail after experiencing injustice—whether prejudice or insult. We often seek revenge, evening the score for a wrong done.

What did the young mother say that made its way to every person in the store that cold, rainy November eve?

Six words.

She said, “Remember what Jesus did for you.”

Bow your head with me and recall our Lord’s sacrifice. Jesus was viciously beaten, the flesh torn from His skin. Our Lord fell, unable to bear the weight of His cross. Stakes were driven into His precious hands and feet. His side pierced.

Recall the cold-hearted jeering. “He saved others, let him save himself.”

This Thanksgiving, praise God for His greatest gift.


Remember what our Lord did for you. Every day—remember. Every time you want your way, feel unfairly treated, suffer insult or prejudice—remember.

It will change your heart. And a change of heart changes everything.

© 2017, 2018 R.A. Mathews  The Rev. R.A. Mathews is a freelance faith columnist and the author of “Reaching to God: Great Truths from the Bible.”