At 27, Molly Mathers has found a job that lets her give back. She works as a Patient Appointment Service Specialist at Mayo Clinic, a place where she spent much of her early life, undergoing a dozen surgeries before she was three. Molly has found a sidelight that combines her faith with her love of teaching.
She’s a worship leader at Crosswinds Church, where Molly directs the youth and adult worship teams.
Molly says her faith-story can be summarized in the words of Jesus. Molly said “In John 9, Jesus teaches his followers that a man they met was born blind ‘so that the works of God might be displayed in him’ (John 9:3).”
From a young age Molly has taken this lesson to heart. Molly doesn’t see her history as a barrier to a whole and healthy life. Rather, she believes that in spite of (or perhaps because of her condition) God will be glorified through her.
And she’s found a perspective on life that everyone should take to heart: “Others’ judgments don’t have the power,” she says, “to dictate my confidence or selfworth.”
Those early surgeries –17 in all – were to combat something called cystic hygroma, a rare condition that caused growths on her face.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to look at how someone else views me and choose to let it go,” says Mathers. “Kids staring, peers making snide comments, people outright avoiding me because how I look makes them uncomfortable.”
But Mathers–a Century High and Bethel University grad who earned her Master’s of Divinity from Denver Seminary– has, she says, done her best to “maintain a big picture, 14,000-foot perspective of life.”
On Thursday, May 7, you can hear her message directly. Mathers will be the featured speaker for Rochester’s National Day of Prayer event, which will be broadcast on KAAL-TV 6 at 6:30 p.m.
“Molly is a gifted communicator with an awesome message,” says Wendell Amstutz, the Rochester event coordinator and a lifelong friend of Mathers’ family. And Amstutz says Molly’s message leaves “not many dry eyes in the audience. Lots of smiles and laughter. People leaving inspired.”
Here’s a glimpse into that message, in Molly’s own words.
Question: Can you think of a moment of adversity when you chose to see the positive?
Molly Mathers: A few years ago I was driving home from downtown Rochester. I was on Second Street, two blocks from St. Marys. It was a nice summer day so I had my window rolled down. A convertible full of teenage girls pulled up next to me at the stoplight. One of the girls made eye contact with me, then started screaming bloody murder while fake retching. The rest of them joined her, laughing and yelling things like “What the … is wrong with her face?” My heart started racing while I processed what was happening. It felt like the longest light ever. In the end, I simply ignored them while waiting for the light to change, then drove away.
I felt astonishment that anyone would do that in real life (it felt like a scene out of “Mean Girls”), but especially right next to Mayo, where anyone in any conceivable situation could have been where I was at that moment. I’m actually really glad it was me instead of someone else. Ultimately, I felt incredibly sad for them. I wonder what experiences they’d had that made them act that way, how deep their own insecurities were.
This happened six years ago. I hope that in the intervening years, at least one of them has thought critically about this event and became a kinder person. I hope the grace I chose to show them made them better people.
It certainly made me a better person. If I had responded in anger, I believe I would think back on that story with resentment rather than with compassion for those girls.
Question: Wow. That’s powerful stuff. Why is working at Mayo important to you?
Molly Mathers: Recently I was visiting a friend’s baby in the Saint Marys NICU. One of the nurses on duty spotted me from across the room and came straight toward me and said “Molly Mathers?” When I confirmed my identity she wrapped me in a huge hug, with tears streaming down her face. She distinctly remembered me 27 years after she took care of me! Without a doubt, it’s this kind of compassion and love that got me through those early years. … It feels like a gift to be on the other side of this equation now, hopefully allowing my patient experience to inform how I interact with patients as they experience fear, illness, and pain.
Question: What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned?
Molly Mathers: Others’ judgments don’t have the power to dictate my confidence or self-worth. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to look at how someone else views me and choose to let it go. … Almost everything else in life is more important than how you look.