I used to believe that I was automatically protected by angels, that they were looking out for me and keeping me safe. I learned something this week that has changed my mind.
I work at a grocery store deli, where I frequently use large slicers to cut meat and cheese for the guests. The spinning blade has never frightened me, and I have always been comfortable using the machines. One night last week I was cleaning them as part of our closing routine. We have cut resistant gloves that are supposed to be used when cleaning them, for safety reasons, but I have never used them. I always believed I was just fine without them. So here I was cleaning the last machine, pondering in my mind the fact that I had never been hurt while using or cleaning these machines, while other employees had, wondering why that was and imagining that I must have angelic protection, when suddenly my right thumb hit the blade. It may or may not have been spinning—I don’t want to incriminate myself because that’s a double no-no. I was in shock for a minute, wondering if this had really happened or if it was just a figment of my imagination. I had trouble looking down at my thumb. I didn’t really want to see. I didn’t want to believe it. But as the pain hit my brain and the blood began to flow, I knew something bad had happened even if I refused to accept it. Anyone who has ever lost a finger or part of one knows what I’m talking about. It’s a gruesome scene.
I didn’t lose my thumb—just a good chunk of the outside pad and nail. I didn’t even need stitches and there was really not a whole lot of pain, so I feel really lucky. But it was still pretty traumatic for me. It was tough to go back to work after a couple of days and face that slicer again.
But this is what I learned: I am not automatically protected. I am not protected against my own wrong choices and I am not protected from evil unless I do certain things in order to receive that protection. There are at least two things I could have done to protect my hand: I could have worn the cut resistant gloves, and I could have prayed for angelic protection. Both were available to me and I used neither. As a result, I got hurt.
“The Savior has always been the protector of those who would accept His protection. He has said more than once, ‘How oft would I have gathered you as a hen gathereth her chickens, and ye would not’ (Book of Mormon, 3 Nephi 10:5)” (Henry Eyring, Finding Safety in Counsel) I believe God is ready and willing to protect us from all of the possible ways we can get hurt, both physically and emotionally. All we have to do is listen and obey and ask for his guidance. Safety measures are often available to us if we will use them, and prayer is always available. I would never get into a vehicle without putting on a seatbelt, because “Research has found that lap/shoulder seat belts, when used, reduce the risk of fatal injury to front-seat passenger car occupants by 45 percent and the risk of moderate-to-critical injury by 50 percent. In 2011 alone, seat belts saved an estimated 11,949 lives.” (http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811875.pdf) It’s just a risk not worth taking. Dying in an automobile accident might not be the worst thing that could happen, but I really don’t want the possibility of living the remainder of my life with a serious injury.
It’s hard to admit that you were wrong and that you made a mistake, that you should have listened to those who knew what they were talking about when they warned you to take precautions. There is safety in obedience and in admitting we were wrong. I had to admit I was wrong and receive a written warning from my employer, who had to pay for a visit to the emergency room because I made the wrong choice. It was a humbling experience for me. So put down your cell phone (when you’re driving), put on your seat belt, your safety goggles, your bike helmet, and your cut resistant gloves. As long as I’m working in a deli, I’ll be wearing mine.