Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Trowels and Muskets

I was 17 years old when I first walked into my dorm room at BYU. The last two years had been a struggle. When I was 15 years old, my previous best friend spread rumors about me and her boyfriend to explain why I didn't hang around her any more. Her family didn't often attend church, and I was often the one who drove her to and from youth activities. The last couple of times, she and her boyfriend made out in the back of the car while I played chauffeur. It made me uncomfortable, so I had gradually pulled away from our friendship.

The rumors were vicious. At school, everyone pretty much just rolled their eyes and didn't believe her. It was different at church. I had to sit in the pews, hearing people whisper about me. Grown women called "Jezebel" at the back of my head. My bishop called me in, heard the whole story, and believed me. That was the only support from the adults in the church that I got. My young women's leaders would give lesson after lesson about chastity, calling on me pointedly. It got so bad that my own (very faithful) parents told me I didn't have to go to church any more if I didn't want to.

But I refused to let them drive me away.

When it came to applying for universities, I ignored the many recruitment brochures from very good schools. I could have applied and been accepted to MIT, Stanford, Cornell, Columbia, or Yale. But I knew that the entirety of the church couldn't be what I'd experienced up to that point. I knew there was only one way to know the truth.

In the end, I only applied to BYU.

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