Have you ever sat in a sacrament meeting and watched the trays being passed slowly from one person to the next? Have you ever cringed when the tray changed to unsteady hands, hoping it would not fall? I have. I have also been the person to drop the tray. I had never actually seen anyone drop it before. On this day, I had prime seats for the event.
My oldest son was giving his first sacrament talk ever. I was looking forward to seeing how he did after his weeks of practice. When my 6-year- old daughter passed me the tray of bread, I did not quite have the handle in my grasp yet when she let go. The handle slipped through my fingers and landed inside my church bag. Fortunately, because it is made of lightweight materials, it did not clang or bang on the way down. My heart sunk and my face turned bright red. My son, who was watching from the stand, was horrified. At that point, so was I! The young deacon standing to my side did not quite know what to do either. I picked up the empty tray and handed it to him with a quiet apology. Kudos to him when he said, “it’s okay,” and returned to the sacrament table to exchange it for a new one. As I sat boiling in the heat of mortification, an interesting thing happened. The fire of embarrassment dissipated, and I felt the quiet, calm warmth of the Savior’s Spirit fill me from my toes to my head. It is hard to put into words what the Spirit whispers but what I felt left me with no misunderstanding. “Melanie,” it said “don’t you dare accept this feeling of inferiority or embarrassment. Think of the ordinance you are taking a part in. The Savior extends grace through His atonement for sins, shortcomings, mistakes, accidents…everything. You are paid for. There is no reason to feel shame. You are where you are supposed to be, doing what you are supposed to be doing. You just experienced for yourself the power of the Savior in action.”
The embarrassment was burned out of my heart and replaced with a new understanding, with a message of love and peace from my Savior and His gift of grace.
While there may have been judgements regarding the incident, I do not know of them. My take-away from that experience was that my Lord loves and supports me through everything, the good and the bad, the lovely and the ugly. He uses “all things with which I am afflicted to work together for my good.” (Doctrine & Covenants 98:3) That was the day I learned about grace.
The Bible Dictionary states the following about grace, “The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts” (p. 697).
Through the grace of my Savior Jesus Christ, I was able to lift my head and know that His merciful and eternal sacrifice plays a role in my life. I was able to overcome the feelings pertaining to the adversary’s dominion. I was able to approach this sacred ordinance with a fresh perspective. And I am grateful for the experience.
I found breadcrumbs in my church bag for weeks afterward and my son still reminds me that I am the only one who has dropped the tray but I know that the experience served to strengthen my relationship with my Savior and teach me a principle that I could not have learned better in any other way.