If the Savior Stood Beside Me
Most of us are probably familiar with the primary song “If the Savior Stood Beside Me.” It asks us to consider what we might do differently if we could see the Savior standing beside us at all times. Would we speak more kindly? Would we try harder to keep the commandments? Would we act more like the Savior?
I recently taught a lesson in Relief Society about personal revelation. I’m a big fan of hypothetical discussions (usually of an absurd variety, though not when I’m teaching in church) and so I asked a similar question to the class. However, I framed it somewhat differently. The song seems to suggest that we would work harder to mend our flaws and be righteous if we could see that Christ was watching what we do at all times. Rather than think of it in punitive terms, I asked my class to consider it differently: What would you be brave enough to do if the Savior were standing next to you, cheering you on?
I’ve been thinking about the question ever since. In my class our discussion centered a great deal on church service. It would be much easier to go Visiting Teaching if you had the Savior as your partner and could say “would you mind getting the lesson this time? I’ll put together a treat.” I know I’d worry less about awkwardness or limping small talk if I knew that Christ himself were going to be doing the teaching part. My husband hates giving lessons in church and dreads his turn coming up in Elders Quorum. He said he’d feel a lot more confident if the Savior were standing there to be his co-teacher. I know it would have been easier as a missionary to have Christ do the door approach for us or take the lead on call-backs.
However, I think the question bears considering beyond the realm of the church. I have been thinking a great deal about the many women and a few men who have come forward to talk about their experiences with sexual assault. It is so hard to speak up about something painful when in our culture so often victims are blamed, shamed, penalized or ostracized while perpetrators continue to flourish. If Jesus stood beside you, arm around you, murmuring “I believe you,” would it be easier to speak painful truths?
I’m trying to be a better ally to people of color by speaking up when I hear white friends and family members saying something racist, but it never goes how I imagine it at home. A friend started talking about how we need guns because refugees are pouring in and they’ll be terrorists. I somewhat awkwardly contradicted her but I wasn’t as brave or clear as I am when I practice these conversations in my mind. Maybe if I could turn to Jesus and say “can you help me out on this?” I would figure out how to call out bigotry without alienating and shutting down the person I’m talking to.
In professional settings it might be easier to ask for a raise, to call out discrimination, to speak up in meetings if the Savior were sitting next to me, backing me up and encouraging me. Maybe I’d even run for office! I feel way too inadequate and ignorant and overwhelmed by the idea, even though I know we have plenty of inadequate and ignorant lawmakers already so I’d probably fit right in. If the Savior said “go for it! I’m right with you! Let’s fix this place!” would I throw my hat in the ring?
The primary song concludes with the words “He is always near me, though I do not see him there. And because he loves me dearly I am in his watchful care. So I’ll be the kind of person that I know I’d like to be, if I could see the Savior standing nigh, watching over me.” It isn’t quite that simple – a physical, visible, presence makes a difference to mortal eyes. But it’s worth remembering when we as sisters speak truth to power and do brave things that we’re not doing it alone.
What would you do differently if the Savior were your wing-man?