Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Moving Forward with Faith - August 17, 2009

Life is crazy busy. We have two more weeks of performances for Pirates of Penzance, filming begins today for Stand Strong the movie, we are testing my Development project with 160 missionaries at the MTC on Wednesday, my family comes in to town on Thursday… yes, crazy busy.

There were three reviews that came out for Pirates this week. The first, from the Deseret News, was less than flattering. The reviewer was very critical of the technical flaws of the show and called it amateurish, even though she mentioned that she had enjoyed watching most of the leads and minor characters. More specific to me, she said that Frederic’s (my) performance was monotonous. I wasn’t really sure how to take the review at first. Thousands of people read the Deseret News, and now thousands of people were reading that a theater critic thought I was monotonous in my performance. First of all, was it true? And, if it was, what did she mean by monotonous? Was it the staging? The way I sang? Or simply just my facial expressions and gestures?

On the Deseret News website I read the comments people had made on the review. Half the comments decried the reviewer for being too harsh, and the other half decried the commenters and supporter her in her harshness. After reflecting for a few minutes, I realized that her review, while it seemed negative, could very easily be turned into a blessing, so I expressed my thought and desire to improve in my own comment. It doesn’t really matter why the review wasn’t incredible – part of the effect of the review was to make me rethink part of my performance.

The second review was from the Salt Lake City Weekly. He had attended the show the same night as the Deseret News reviewer and really enjoyed the show. I remembered that most people who had left that night had been smiling… and so I committed myself to being a better performer – to make even the critics smile. Friday, another reviewer came, and after the show, a few audience members complimented me by saying, “I couldn’t stop laughing – you were so funny!” or “Are you from Australia? Great accent!” I felt like I had improved almost overnight, just from taking notice of what one person thought about the performance. That third review was the best of all – from the Salt Lake Examiner.

Simultaneous with all my busy-ness, I’ve been wondering what to do after the end of August. Originally, my volunteering at the MTC, Pirates of Penzance, and filming for Stand Strong all ended on August 29. Beyond that date was a cloudy nightmare – I had no idea what would happen. And, until yesterday, I didn’t know what to do about it. The past few summers, the Lord has waited until the very last moment to change my plans and put me in the situations I need in order to grow. I didn’t have a job last summer until after I had to move out of my apartment. The year before, I didn’t realize I was going to take classes during the summer until a few weeks before school ended. At first, my constantly changing plans were frustrating. I like to know what is happening and be a part of the scheduling process in my life. That way, I can plan for the future and have a clear vision of where I am going. But, at the same time, I realized that I needed to put my faith in the Lord and know that He would guide and direct my paths.

This summer, I had the same experience. A long road of promptings led to my working at the MTC and I woke up one morning with the desire to try out for Pirates of Penzance. And, since it had happened so many other times, I assumed the Lord would follow the same process with my life for this fall. But I haven’t gotten any responses from prayers as to what to do come September – absolutely nothing. I know that, if He tells me, it will be late August or September, but right now I don’t know whether the Lord wants me to be in Utah or Chicago or somewhere else… teaching or performing or writing or doing something else… and if I don’t make plans I plan to fail. Yesterday, as I listened to speakers in Church, the Lord asked me a question. “David, how would you act if I told you to take the job at the MTC, find a part-time job teaching physics, and look for opportunities to perform related to the Gospel?” I replied that I would definitely move forward on all those levels, sure of His support and knowing that He would correct my course when the need arose. His reply, “Don’t you already know that?” I realized that the Lord, for now, wants me to follow the guidance of Brigham Young – to make the best decisions I can, pray for guidance, and then to know that the Lord is behind me with full force. If I pray for guidance and the Lord does not give me an answer, I can make my decision and know that He will consecrate my efforts as much as if I were following the command of an angel. And, if I make the wrong decision, He will make corrections along the way.

Each of us lives a life of uncertainty. Even though we may have plans, we don’t know what will happen tomorrow, and when we find ourselves in unfamiliar territory, we may want a map to find our way out. But, even if He is not telling us exactly what to do in life, the Lord is at our side – prompting, assuring, and preparing the way before us to accomplish the greatest things the world has ever known. I still don’t know exactly what will happen when the summer is over (and the time is getting closer and closer), but I’ve decided that that is ok. I can make plans and then change them should the need arise. And that is the first plan-related decision to which I’ve received an affirmative response. Yes. I should make plans and act accordingly. And the Lord will bless me.

I know that God is our Father, and that He wants us to grow and progress in this life. Sometimes, He gives us a list of things we need to accomplish – inspiring us with a divine calling to change the world. And other times He leaves us to our own inspiration – anxiously engaging ourselves in a good cause of our own free will and choice. Don’t worry – if you are about to do something wrong, He will tell you (even if it means prompting someone to write a less-than-stellar review of your performance!). Wherever you are on the path, I challenge you to move forward with faith. Perhaps that means doing something difficult that He has already commanded… or doing something even harder that you feel would be a good choice. We have an incredible promise: if we are doing what we think and feel is right, the Lord is bound to be with us every step of the way.

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