A few steps into the darkness… the light came on

That last entry needs the resolution. I’m going to break away from the story for a second because I need to fill in the background. There were several reasons that I made me really want to come back to BYU this year – not just YAs. I really liked my roommates and I was excited to be back with them, however, in the first week it really seemed like Natalie & Julie were quickly becoming best good friends (which I knew they would) and I didn’t feel as necessary to our apartment as I had last year.

I absolutely loved the ward I had been in and I was soo excited to be back. I’ve written about it before, but I really do think that the BYU 138th ward IS Zion. However, a couple weeks before school started my bishop called to tell me that they had changed the ward boundaries and my apartment was in a new ward. He called me towards the end of choir practice, so I talked to him just before we went through the song for the last time. It always takes some time for things to hit me (moving from NY didn’t hit me until 6 months later- literally. I remember moving and thinking everything was fine… then one night while I was putting away the piano music it suddenly hit me that I wasn’t in NY anymore and I started bawling in the middle of our living room) so while I was talking to Bishop Klein I thought it was going to be fine and that I was sure the Lord knew what he was doing. As soon as I got back into choir practice and started to sing again it hit me. I was devastated. I was barely able to keep myself together through the rest of the song and the closing prayer. I told Taylor but she was hardly sympathetic. I made it to my car, put my sunglasses on and sobbed the whole way home (driving and crying… probably not the safest combination…). It wasn’t that I didn’t believe that the Lord knew what He was doing, I still believed it, and I still do believe it, I was just REALLY sad that I wouldn’t be part of that ward anymore. I don’t adjust well to change and this was a VERY unwelcome change in my life.

On top of that, things had gotten super weird over the summer between me and this guy that I liked. He is one of my best friends and I really felt like I couldn’t really talk to him the same anymore. Another reason I felt like I should be up here was to take care of Taylor. It’s her first year at college, and that can be rough on anyone. My freshman year was one of the worst years of my life partly because I had felt so very alone. In addition to that Taylor is still battling with Intracranial Hypertension, so she gets very sick at times. I really wanted to be up here to take care of her when she was having breakdowns and just be up here to support her in general. I’ve really missed being around my family while up at school and I was so stoked to have her up here with me. But there again, she’s a lot more outgoing than I am so she easily makes friends and after the first couple days of overcoming jet-lag she seemed like she was all set to go.

Which brings us finally to the big one. When I originally had prayed about what I should be doing this year I really felt like I was supposed to be coming back and doing Young Ambassadors again. I suppose I never asked that in particular but that was the real reason that I felt like I was supposed to be here. Everything else was more of a comfort zone thing, or gravy. Good things, good reasons to come back, but none of which were truly compelling enough to delay going on a mission. You have to understand, Young Ambassadors is more than just a singing and dancing group. It’s not just another touring theater group. It is a group with a tremendous spirit and an amazing mission to fulfill. I have made the mistake in the past of making it sound like it is the equivalent to a full time mission. It’s not. I know it’s not, but there is a lot more to it than people realize. It’s really hard for me to explain it to anyone who’s never been a part of it. The Young Ambassadors can touch people in ways that no one else can. I really feel like the people in the group are meant to be there, if not foreordained. I know that sounds over the top, but the longer I’ve been a part of the group the more I’ve felt it. They are some of the most spiritual, most amazing people I have ever known and I don’t know what I could have done to deserve to be a part of them. I have learned so much about myself, about people and about the Lord by being with them.

Anyways, YA’s was the real reason that I felt like I should stay. So, when John told me that he didn’t want me for stage manager this year, it was pretty hard. I posted about that before so I won’t repeat it, except to say this. I can honestly say that I wasn’t bitter. I know that anyone else who had applied most likely had more theater experience in general than I did. My experience has been almost 100% Young Ambassadors and very little anywhere else. Plus, I sincerely believe that the Lord is watching out for that group and if John didn’t want me back then maybe I was supposed to be getting some message out of that from the Lord. That group will end up with whoever it’s supposed to have, and the work will go on. I’ve heard it said before that whether or not we choose to support the gospel it will go forward and eventually prevail. It says in the Bible that when all is said and done Christ will conquer Satan and righteousness will win out. We know who the winning side will be, and our choice is to be on that side, but our being on that side will not determine the outcome as a whole, only for ourselves. That’s how I feel about the Young Ambassadors. With or without me, that group is going to go on to do amazing things. The Lord is in control and He will raise up whomever He needs to see that the work gets done. If it’s me then, fantastic! If it’s not, the work is going to go on and whoever is there instead is the person who is supposed to be there. Anyways, I didn’t mean to go on forever about my testimony of Young Ambassadors, I just wanted to add it as another thing that didn’t work out. I was very confused that everything felt like I ought to be a part of it, everyone thought that I ought to have that job, and then it didn’t work out.

So, in my last entry I wrote about how upset I was about not getting the stage manager position. That was Saturday night. Sunday I fasted all day about what I should do. Still, I didn’t really get a specific answer, but since I keep being told to counsel with my parents, they were pushing me towards a mission, and nothing else was coming together, I finally decided that I was going to go talk to my bishop and turn in my mission papers for the end of this semester. So, on Monday, I decided to just do it. I even told my sister about my decision just before I went home from classes that day. She’s been somewhat mad at me all summer because I was putting off a mission and she would give anything to be leaving on a mission right now. I don’t know that I can say that I felt “good” about the decision… I didn’t feel like it was wrong, but it was more of a determination than a fuzzy warm “this is the right decision” kind of feeling. I was going to do whatever the Lord wanted me to do, and if it was going on a mission, then that’s what I was going to do. I hadn’t received a distinct confirmation that I needed to serve a mission, but it seemed like the only logical thing at that point. I don’t know if that makes a lot of sense but I don’t know how else to describe it.

I returned from classes that day and plugged my computer into the internet. I was watching it connect to Google Talk and it started showing me the snippets from my new e-mails. I had 5, which seemed unusual but I just watched as it scrolled through them. One in particular caught my eye:

I was stunned. I’m pretty sure my heart stopped beating right then and there and I just stared at my computer for a second. I felt sure that I was sleeping or seeing things or possibly that all of the tension and confusion and semi-depression was catching up with me and I was starting to go insane- beginning with hallucinations. Finally I shook myself and opened up my actual inbox. Sure enough, there was the email from John.

I re-read it several times before doing the only thing I could think of to do. I called my mom. She was at a dentist appointment with the boys, but I tried to tell her as quickly and calmly as possible (which was very difficult… I was very near squealing) about the email. She was very excited for me, but couldn’t really talk, since they aren’t allowed cell phones in the dentist’s office, so she promised to call me back. I was still bouncing with excitement and a fair amount of nervous energy, so I called Taylor. Her response wasn’t exactly ideal. She told me that “you suck as a human being.” I thought that was a little spiteful, but I didn’t really expect anything more from her. Finally I called my dad to tell him. He was very excited for me, and discussed it with me for a fair amount of time. I told him about the decision I had made just before receiving that email to go on a mission (I hadn’t even had time to tell my parents yet). His response was to the effect of “ye receive no witness until after the trial of your faith.” What he said is actually best summed up in a quote from Elder Boyd K. Packer of the Twelve Apostles in an article entitled “The Candle of the Lord” in the January 1983 Ensign. Elder Packer said,

“Somewhere in your quest for spiritual knowledge, there is that ‘leap of faith,’ as the philosophers call it. It is the moment when you have gone to the edge of the light and stepped into the darkness to discover that the way is lighted ahead for just a footstep or two.”

I had been half expecting my parents to tell me to turn it down and just go on a mission anyways. So, to hear their counsel finally coincide with everything I felt was a REALLY good feeling. When I got off the phone with my dad I decided that I needed to stop and really ask the Lord if this was right. Yes, it was great and it was a miracle, but it also could be just another part of the test. That would be mean, but it wasn’t impossible. So, I knelt down and prayed. I stopped and thanked my Heavenly Father for this opportunity. I told Him how excited I was and how much I wanted this job and promised to do the very best job I could do. Then I told Him that if He didn’t want me to take this job, I wouldn’t. I told Him that I had faith in Him that He would lead me to the things that would be best for me, and to the places where He needed me most. I did, however, tell Him that if He didn’t want me to take this job, I would probably need a fairly clear confirmation. My suggestion was flaming swords 😉 (I’m sure I probably sound a little bit flippant and irreverent when I’m talking about how I speak with the Lord. I’m sure I’m a little more casual with how I speak with Him, but it’s because I feel more like He is real when I can be real with Him. I think He understands us better than we know, and that He is more like us (well in reality we are more like Him, but if A=B then B=A right?) then we realize. I don’t intend those comments in a sacreligious way, I just feel closest to the Lord when I can talk to Him more like Brittny and less like the Bible.) Anyways, I didn’t really mean that I needed a flaming sword to stop me, but I wanted to make it clear that I intended to take this position unless I received revelation saying I ought to do otherwise. Whether that revelation came in the form of a flaming sword, a feeling, a thought or a comment from my parents was less relevant. I closed my prayer and stopped to listen for a moment. Slowly, all of the burdens of confusion, and hurt and depression lifted away. I felt more at peace than I had in a long time.

So, yeah, I called John that night and Matt trained me to be Stage Manager the next day. I’m so excited to be a part of this again. This year’s group seems so amazing. I love our new crew already. It’s definitely going to be a lot of hard work and time, but I’m thrilled. I just hope that I can do it as well as it ought to be done. The only real “stage managing” experience I had was in our high school’s dance department. I’m not worried about the office stuff, or getting everything ready for the tours. I know I can handle that just fine. I’m sure that the set ups will go smoothly enough, I feel like I know what’s supposed to happen there. Strike shouldn’t be too big of a problem either. I think I can handle the people problems and work through any issues that may arise there. Really the thing that I am the most worried about is actually calling the show. That probably sounds stupid to most people since literally all I have to do is read along with the script and tell people when to turn on spotlights or fog machines, or retrieve props from the stage, and push the play button so that the music starts for each number. I guess it just scares me a little because there is a lot of responsibility resting on my shoulders to make sure that things happen when they’re supposed to and in the right way. We have two fresh spot ops that will need to be trained and I’m supposed to be able to tell them when they’re doing things wrong. I was one of the worst spot ops ever. At least that’s how I felt. I missed cues all the time and I was always too bright, or too dim, too high or too low, hitting the valance, coming on in the wrong spot, I just constantly felt like I didn’t get it right. I’m sure that I was too self-critical, but I just hope that I can see when there are problems and be able to identify them. I know that Keith is the lighting guy and he’ll definitely see when things are wrong and he can just as easily tell the spots what they ought to do. I just want to be able to do it myself and do it right. I hope people will tell me when I’m messing up, and that I’ll be able to take it well and improve. I don’t want people saying, “Well, Brittny doesn’t quite know what she’s supposed to be doing so I’ll just take over this part.” It’s going to be a learning curve, I’m willing to learn and I hope that people around me are willing to let me learn and do it. That probably sounds prideful, but it’s not so much that I want to do it because I want the power or anything like that. I just want the show to run the way it’s supposed to go, and do things the right way, the professional way, and not some alternate-way-we-made-up-for-us. However, whatever concerns I may have, I really am just excited to be back and I can’t wait for the adventures ahead.

I know this entry is sort of stream of conscious and getting to be fairly long, sorry. But, I need to write this all out. It helps me really think through things, and remember things that I have learned so that later in life I can look back and see where I came from and what I’ve done with the lessons I’ve learned. In my defense, you don’t have to read the entry. 😛

I guess I should probably tell you the resolutions to all of my other reasons for being up here as well. After YAs fell into place everything else sorta came together as well. As I’ve been in my apartment I’ve really noticed that I am really wanted here. Julie wasn’t replacing me with Natalie at all, the three of us have become very good friends, but we are the three of us, and not a combination of any of the two of us. We have very different personalities in some ways and very similar personalities in others. We’re all pretty low-key so it makes for a nice laid back apartment, but each of us has our own strengths and weaknesses. I’m good friends with each Natalie and Julie and they are good friends with each other. I think it was just that they were sorta meeting for the first time and still in the fun part of really getting to know each other whereas I already knew both of them (Natalie is from my home stake & Julie was my roommate last year). I guess I probably felt a little left out of all that… but not really for any good reason. Things seem to be cool with that guy friend and we’re still friends without any apparent weirdness anymore (I found out just the other day that he’d been dating someone when I talked with him over the summer… but he never told me that. I think that was probably the source for a lot of the weirdness). Taylor has definitely proven to need me more than it seemed at first. She’s had a couple of minor meltdowns and I’ve seen her pretty much every single day since we got up here. Whether it’s been for lunch or when she’s needed to escape her dorm room she’s been around a lot more than I expected. I think it’s definitely good that she’s got me up here to watch out for her. I’m sure she COULD do it on her own if she had to, but I think it’s good that I’m here for her. Technically, I did make it through my freshman year on my own… but it sucked. Hopefully Taylor’s experience will be a lot better than mine was. I’m still trying to reconcile myself to our new ward. I am more convinced than ever that my old ward was Zion. However, I know that any situation is what you make of it so I am doing my best to be positive and be a part of the ward. I think it will get better as I really get to know more people in the ward, it’s just going to take a little bit of time.

So, yeah. Life is good. I feel like I am where I’m supposed to be and that everything is going to work out just great. School is going well. My classes are going to keep me good and busy and learning lots. YAs rocks. I love my roommates. My family is awesome. The gospel is true. Temples are beautiful. To quote Polly in “Crazy for You”, “Who could ask for anything more?”

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