My husband loves to tell the story of when Truman Madsen and President Hugh B. Brown visited the valley of Hebron where there is possibly a tomb of Abraham. While they were there “Truman Madsen asked President Brown, ‘What are the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob?’ Elder Brown thought a moment and answered in one word, ‘Posterity.’ Then Brother Madsen said he almost burst out, “Why, then, was Abraham commanded to go to Mount Moriah and offer his only hope of posterity?’ It was clear that this man, nearly ninety, had thought and prayed and wept over that question before. Elder Brown finally said, ‘Abraham needed to learn something about Abraham’.”
I get this answer. We all need to learn more about ourselves and trials, set-backs, and inconveniences are often the best way to learn about our own character.
Last week was a rollercoaster of emotions. And it was the week that Tiffany needed to learn something about Tiffany.
Last summer Elle’s ballet teacher asked her if she wanted to prepare a solo for YAGP which is a prestigious ballet competition. YAGP travels all over the country and world and this was the first time that they were coming to Salt Lake City. Elle would get to perform at the Capitol Theatre and learn at Ballet West. It is an unbelievable opportunity of competing and performing, as well as learning and instruction from some ballet greats. Elle agreed to learn and perform a classical ballet variation.
Hundreds of hours later and thousands of dollars later, Elle was ready to perform her solo. When the time neared, we registered Elle to dance at the YAGP competition.
The first email from YAGP came through the week before the competition. They had Elle scheduled to dance her solo on a Sunday. My heart sank and my stomach went into knots. I didn’t even realize one of the competition dates was a Sunday when I registered her. Everybody knows Utah dance competitions are Thursday-Saturday. But these guys are so big and so global, Sunday it was. I felt bad that I had even put us in this situation. I was kicking myself for not checking the dates more closely.
I presented the problem to Elle and asked her what we would do. She said that she would dance on Sunday. It was not the Mormon Message ending I was hoping for, but Elle’s choice none the less. She reasoned that this was the competition of all competitions. This was why she learned and polished a solo in the first place. All other performances were in preparation for THIS performance. It was the Capitol Theatre! She had worked so hard and we had paid so much money, she was determined to dance even if it was on Sunday.
I wasn’t as determined. I grew up way too strict to think that I could break the Sabbath for a dance solo, but at the same time Elle’s points were valid. I thought I wanted Elle to stick up for her beliefs, refuse to dance, and have her testimony strengthened, but, if I’m being honest, I really wanted to see her dance too. It was a tough decision for us, and I was going to let her make it. She would get to decide mainly because I am a wimp, but also because I believe strongly in agency and choice even if it makes me look bad or even if I disagree with it.
What I wasn’t sure of was what my role would be and what choice I would make. If Elle chose to dance would I support her (and break the Sabbath day) or make her work it out on her own so that I could maintain my integrity? I was between a rock and a hard place.
Luckily, I didn’t have to suffer long. About four hours later, I got another email from YAGP saying that if we wished not to dance on Sunday that we could email them. I immediately sent a prayer of gratitude up to heaven and an email to YAGP thanking them for their generosity and understanding. I asked for Elle to dance on another day. A weight was lifted from my shoulders and my stomach settled.
A day or two later, the next email came with the revised schedule. It had Elle dancing Saturday morning at around 9:30 am. That seems great except for the fact that my other daughter had a dance competition on Saturday at the exact same time! My husband would be out of town and the dances were in two different locations over an hour drive apart. There was no way I could make it to both daughters’ dances. And it wasn’t just about supporting them, it was about figuring out how to do both their hair and make-up at the same time and get them to where they needed to be all before 8:00 am.
Elle really wanted me to be with her since YAGP was the pinnacle of her dance training thus far, and Croft really wanted me to be with her because it was her first competition ever. I was between another rock and a hard place. And my stomach was back in knots.
We had a family meeting and brainstormed all of the different scenarios and issues. We elicited grandmas’ and an aunt’s help to try to pull it off, but after at least two days of stewing, we still had not figured out a viable plan.
And that’s when the fourth, unexpected, email came. YAGP had moved Elle’s performance to Friday at around 1:00 pm. Halle-freaking-lujah!!!! It was actually the perfect scenario. We could get decent sleep Thursday night and not have to get up too early on Friday. Then I could go with Elle all day on Friday and watch her perform her solo and be with her in the guts of the basement of the Capitol Theatre. Grandma could watch the other kids and take them on a field trip. Then Saturday could be Croft’s day. I could get her hair and make-up done and be there to watch her two dances and help her change her costumes and hair. My stomach settled again.
I replied back to YAGP, thanked them again, and told them I was writing this new time in PEN. In the end, we had a busy, but fun, doable weekend. Both girls felt supported and loved, and we kept the Sabbath day holy.
This story illustrates the beautiful tender mercies of the Lord, and how He really is in the details of our lives.
But this story also illustrates what Tiffany needed to learn about Tiffany: my Sabbath day testimony is not as strong as I thought it was, and it’s not where I’d like it to be. Five years ago, even one year ago, if this had come up, I would have never even considered letting Elle dance.
Just this fall, we told Crew’s new baseball team he doesn’t play on Sunday. He is only one of two kids on his team to make that stand, but we were resolute in our beliefs. His coach was very understanding.
But suddenly you throw in blood, sweat, tears, hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars and my position softened a bit. I saw how hard Elle had worked and how this was maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity and I got weak. And wearing a modest, pretty dress and twirling around to classical music for two minutes didn’t seem as bad as playing a double header outside in the dirt. (See where your mind goes when you are rationalizing.)
I thank Heavenly Father that He didn’t make me make that decision at this time. I obviously wasn’t ready and neither was Elle. We both have some more work to do. We need to go back to the foundations of our testimonies and do some assessment. I can’t say what the future will bring, but I can say that we won’t be caught off guard again. We will go in knowing what our decision will be.
Tiffany learned that Tiffany still has a lot to learn.