I Will Go Where You Want Me to Go

Imagine standing backstage and hearing, moments before the curtains open, that the crowd of freshly trained marines had booed the last performers off stage. My knees would buckle. Janie Thompson, BYU's musical phenomenon, was unfazed by the news. She brushed aside suggestions that she change her show to something more risqué to appease the rowdy crowd and, instead, huddled her performers together.

"Let's do the best performance we've ever done." She said. Her firm standards and unwavering faith bolstered the anxious BYU student performers. By the end of the show, the crowd of marines were on their feet, hands clapping and tears streaming down their faces.

My freshman year of college I faced a situation that, compared to standing in front of a hostile crowd, should not have elicited much fear, but my knees were buckling just the same. I was attending the University of Tennessee—a college twenty minutes from my house, filled with students I had known for years, and an abundance of soothing familiarity.

So why did this one thought keep drifting through my head?

"You should be at BYU."

That couldn't be right. Everything made sense in Tennessee—to leave that behind would be madness.

Janie also felt an unwelcome pull to BYU. After graduation, her music career was flourishing—she even had the opportunity to perform with music legend Ike Carpenter—but then she got a call from BYU President Ernest Wilkinson asking her to come to BYU to found the Student Program Bureau. She was utterly distraught; going to BYU would slam the breaks on her music career. But she considered the request a calling from God and decided to act in faith. She cried the whole plane ride to Provo.

When I realized the voice in my head telling me to go to BYU would not quiet on its own, I decided to make a pros and cons list. Foolproof, right?


After completing the list, the pros of going to BYU amounted to two measly items: less humidity and taller mountains. The cons list, on the other hand, stretched to the bottom of the page. That should have silenced the voice in my head for good...

"You should be at BYU."

No luck.

In Janie's first four years at BYU, she put on over 2,000 shows and visited every high school in the state. She worked diligently to connect with each of her students, pushing them to reach their greatest potential. She was known campus wide as a stern, but loving professor.

In need of a break, she moved to New York to work in a professional studio. While there she became discouraged by the power and negative influence of the entertainment industry. A few years later Wilkinson called her again, asking her to return to BYU. She could hardly stomach the thought of going back to that stressful lifestyle. But again, she acted in faith. The very next year she started BYU's first international touring group, using the entertainment industry to spread gospel light worldwide.

When it finally came time to decide, I, despite the rising panic in my chest, chose to leave for BYU. Like Janie, I cried on the plane ride over in mourning for what I was giving up and for fear of what was to come. The panic did not subside while I unpacked my things. It did not subside when I attended my first class. Then, at church the first Sunday, I felt a peace wash over me that I could not understand logically. It could only be the peace that comes from acting in faith.

Janie lived her life with faith as her guiding compass. Sometimes that compass faced away from where she wanted to go, but she never wavered from its direction. Sometimes it feels like the compass must be wrong—surely, we know a better way. But if we follow that compass, we will accomplish things we never could have imagined. Maybe we will bring tears to the eyes of battle-ready marines, visit students from every high school in the state, or tour internationally.

Maybe we will attend a university that is two thousand miles from home, but exactly where we belong.

There are days I worry I made the wrong choice—like I walked onstage, and the crowd is booing. When that happens, I remember Janie's shining example. I lean on my faith and trust in God's plan for me. I feel Christ's hand on my shoulder, lending support, and a still, small voice telling me everything is going to be okay.