Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I Quit

Today I quit my dream job. It was one of the most difficult things I have ever done.

I love choral music. It has been my passion and joy for almost as long as I can remember. I began singing in a choir in 4th grade and I've been involved in the art ever since. Participating in choral music has been a part of my development, spirituality and identity-- a part of my soul.

I became interested in choral conducting as a student a BYU. While singing in BYU Singers I took classes in choral conducting and eventually pursued a master's minor in choral conducting under Dr. Ronald Staheli.

When we moved to Kentucky I was offered a position as Director of the TU Singers, the school's women's chorus. I absolutely loved working with the women, selecting repertoire, preparing for concerts and, most of all, running rehearsal. One of the reasons it was so hard to leave Kentucky was knowing I'd have to leave the women's choir, not knowing if I'd ever have another opportunity to conduct at the collegiate level.

About 6 months after moving home to St George I was again offered the opportunity to conduct a women's chorus, this time at Dixie State University! I was honored and delighted! Once again I loved the women, the music, and the rehearsal. Staying home caring for young children can sometimes be mundane, so the outlet of adult interaction, music, and a project to chew on mentally during some of the more tedious times of the day was a welcome opportunity.

I had to take last semester off, due to complications with Kate's pregnancy. However, I fully intended to return in the Fall. Yet, as I began planning for the Fall, I felt very uneasy. As I laid out my weekly schedule, my personal commitments away from my children seemed overwhelming. It just didn't feel right, so I began praying, asking the Lord to help me know what needed to change.

Throughout my life I have prayed for direction. Yet, the pattern in my life seems to be that I come to a logical decision and pray for confirmation of that decision. If I feel good, I proceed. Elder Scott, in his April 2012 conference address explained that this method is considered being led by inspiration. And yet, while living in Kentucky I became concerned that I wasn't feeling direction from the Lord in my life as often as I wanted and felt prompted that if I would commit to listen and follow instruction, more would be given. I made that commitment several years ago now, and have tried to listen more closely and follow the promptings of the Spirit, no matter what.

So, as I was pondering my schedule for the Fall, I felt a direct prompting that I shouldn't direct the women's chorus. This came as a surprise because logically it probably makes the most sense. I had lined up childcare with my mom and mother-in-law. The class was during the day while two of my four kids would be in school and it was perhaps the most unique opportunity and not easily attainable again.

I struggled with this answer because it didn't make sense in my head. I knew I had received direction- revelation-but I didn't want to follow because I didn't understand. So, I tucked the prompting away. I mulled it over in my mind and kept it to myself. I would think of it and pray again, only to receive the same strong feeling. But I didn't act. Could I really give up this rare opportunity? Was it really the Spirit I felt? Couldn't I maybe give up something else instead?

Still, the feeling persisted and I knew that I needed to prove to the Lord (and myself) that I was willing to follow the guidance I had asked for. So, I spoke to BJ about my feels, then my mom. Both confirmed I ought to follow. Still I didn't act.

Two weeks ago I was sitting in Primary on Sunday. During Sharing Time our Primary president was giving a lesson on the Holy Ghost. She began by asking, "Have you ever had a prompting from the Holy Ghost and followed it? What happened when you followed?" Then she shared a simple experience of following a prompting. As she was teaching a clear thought came into my mind, "You have received a prompting. Are you going to follow it?"

Did I really have enough faith to believe that the Lord knew better than me?

Another week went by and I sat again in Sharing Time and heard another lesson on the Holy Ghost. This time members of the ward had been invited to share experiences where they had listened to promptings. Our Bishop (my brother-in-law) related a story. He was driving on the freeway one day and felt prompted to slow way down. He did so and kept expecting that around each corner he would see something dangerous or perhaps something would happen to his car and then he would understand why he was supposed to slow down. However, he saw nothing. Eventually he felt it was safe to speed up again and he made the rest of his trip in safety. He testified that he didn't see anything but knew that had he not obeyed the prompting, something would have happened.

As I listened, his testimony reassured me that although I didn't see the exact reason for the obedience and perhaps I never would see it, it was still important to obey.

I was also reminded of the experience of Joseph Smith who asked the Lord if he could lend the Book of Mormon manuscript to Martin Harris. He was told "No" but kept asking the Lord until finally the Lord allowed him to do what he wanted, with disastrous results. I sensed that if I didn't act soon, I would be on that same willful and potentially disastrous course.

So, this morning I spoke to Roger, my friend and colleague and tendered my resignation. It was one of the most difficult things I've ever done. It was my dream job and I walked away.

Like my brother-in-law, I may never fully understand all the reasons. I spoke to my brother, Daniel, and asked him why it would feel so hard to follow a prompting. He reminded me that perhaps it's a test. If it were easy, would it be a test? Can the Lord test our faith and devotion if the stakes aren't high? Think of Abraham, Moses, and Nephi. The Lord asked for sacrifices much bigger than mine, partially to test their obedience and faith.

While pondering this choice, I had a picture come into my mind. I was hiking and there were two paths. The first first path looked difficult. The branches were thick and the path overgrown. Treading that path seems undesirable. The second path looked smooth and clear, an easy route. My inclination was to take the second path, the easier road but when I started toward it, my guide, an experienced hiker who knew both paths suggested I take the first path. Though it looked less appealing than the second path, he promised it would lead me to the best destination. The second path looked easier at the start but wouldn't lead me where I wanted to go.

I have always believed in "stay-at-home" mothering but it sure has been tough to give up such a joyful professional opportunity. My favorite quote from Barrie's Peter Pan is:

Mrs. Darling: There are many different kinds of bravery. There's the bravery of thinking of others before one's self. Now, your father has never brandished a sword nor fired a pistol, thank heavens. But he has made many sacrifices for his family, and put away many dreams.

Michael: Where did he put them?

Mrs. Darling: He put them in a drawer. And sometimes, late at night, we take them out and admire them. But it gets harder and harder to close the drawer... He does. And that is why he is brave.”

As I said before, I don't know all the reasons why I had to close this drawer for now, but I can count Four very special reasons, and each deserve the best of their mom--her physical presence, her attention and her energy. Even if those Four are the entire reason, that is enough. 

I don't know everything, in fact, sometimes I feel I don't know anything at all but I trust the Lord. I know he knows the best, safest, happiest path for me. I believe he will lead me, guide me, walk beside me, and help me find the way to the best end. And, as Maria Von Trapp says, "When the Lord closes a door, somewhere He opens a window".