Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Finding Worth and Finding God

An Inner Struggle: Mission Impossible

General Conference October 2012: Morning
We are all sprawled on the couch or on the floor. Pajamas are the fashion and cereal is being crunched during the opening song. The program proceeds as usual, "Welcome to such and such session of Conference...the young women of the Church will now be able to serve missions at the age of nineteen". All of us gasp and eyes gawk. One roommate had always planned on a mission so this simply shifted her plan forward. Another roommate was seriously dating a nice young man but now a mission was on the table. And then me. A mission have never been on or off the table. Now, in a matter of five seconds, I was of mission age. The more I thought, the more enthused I became about the idea. I called by parents who replied "We knew we would get this call from you".

December 2012:
"Dear Paige Whitney, You have been accepted into the Landscape and Literature study abroad for Spring of 203". I knew what people would think. "Oh, you chose a mission over a study abroad?" or "You know, you will never regret going on a mission but you will regret not going", as if I had made one of my greatest decisions on a whim. No, God did not tell me not to go on a mission. He left the decision up to me though I wanted Him to make it for me. When I decided to go on a mission, I felt anxious and confused. When I decided not to go, I felt peace. Perhaps, I finally accepted, my mission would not come in the mail or send me away. Though God did not make my decision, once made, He let me know I had a different mission ahead.

Scripture, Personal, and Powerful: Finding a Gift
I was the only girl in my Young Women's group who played piano. I won the creative writing contest at my high school. I was a Mormon and so I stood out in my community. I had considered writing and piano my two talents from a young age and being a Mormon was a large part of my identity...until I arrived at Brigham Young University. Every sacrament meeting contained a musical number performed by an individual who had played since infancy. I began the English major and everyone had impressive writing abilities. I became absolved in a Mormon community where I was one of many. I was in a BYU rut, I like to called it. I was lost in a sea of talent, intelligence and spiritual giants. With nowhere else to go and little hope of finding solace, I opened by scriptures randomly to Doctrine and Covenants Section 11 and read "Behold, thou hast a gift, or thou shalt have a gift if thou wilt desire of me in faith, with an honest heart, believing in the power of Jesus Christ, or in my power which speaketh unto thee". Though my fingers did not magically fill with musical genius or my mind with beautiful poetics, the scripture touched my dampened soul. Looking back, I cannot point out specifically a new talent I received but I can say that God heard me and my plea for acknowledgement.

A Wilderness Quest: Every Soul

Humanity seems to have this innate need to belong. In the spring of 2013, I attended the "Literature and Landscape" study abroad in the United Kingdom. Our group hiked near 200 miles across the English countryside while studying the lived and works of English authors.

18 miles across the English moors and marshy expanses of nothing made the darkness of Emily Bronte seem warranted. After finishing the trek, I would sit out from the next day's hike considering that my feet might fall off any minute. Yet, something wouldn't let me miss it. The following morning we hiked along the Pennine Trail from Earby to Malham. The thirteen miles passed with ease as we hiked through vibrant, green fields. In my journal that night I wrote "We walked through this one field that was on top of a hill and we ran and spun around and I felt like Maria from the Sound of Music! I felt like a part of the world and this incredible sense of belonging. This trip makes me feel this way a lot". On this specific hike, I felt an unknown pull to hike not necessarily because I went seeking God. Rather, I think God came seeking me. As I read back on my journal entry, I am reminded of God's promise in Doctrine and Covenants 18 "Remember the worth of soul is great in the eyes of God" and on those green pastures God let me know my soul has a place in this world.


  1. I apologize for the formatting...I have tried everything to fix it.

  2. These are really powerful. I love how your essays show the anxiety of living as an individual while being assailed by the community (something I, at least, can relate to you, also having felt that sense of "just another piano player at BYU".) Like you said, though, your life is up to you, and that comes from sincere internal reflection. It's so practical--when you thought about not going on a mission, you felt peace. Thanks for having the courage to write about this!