My Terrible, Horrible Day


First-Place Article
Stress, doubt, and more stress. How was I going to deal with it all?

I sat alone at the edge of my bed, balancing my thick biology book as I attempted to study for the next day’s test. I slowly turned through the complicated chapter on cellular respiration, my jaw tight as I tried to concentrate. But it was useless.

I looked up at the glow-in-the-dark stars clustered above my bed, dull in the light of my lamp, the sharp edges blurring as my eyes filled with tears. I had done a horrible job that evening trying out for the play. It had been my first attempt at high school theater. Although untrained in the arts of dancing, acting, and singing, I had undertaken the challenging musical tryouts at the urging of my friends. I hadn’t done well. My dancing on the first night and my singing audition seemed about average. But tonight had been the final test, the portion I had counted on for success—a memorized humorous monologue, performed in under a minute, before the critical eyes of the director and audition board. I had prepared for my monologue days in advance, writing and memorizing the script carefully until I was certain I could perform it even in my sleep. But when I had reached the school, I couldn’t think clearly. I was not only nervous but also tired and worried about my two difficult tests scheduled for the next day. I tried to remember my lines, those words that I knew so well, but they slipped from me in fragments and spilled out shaky and uncertain.

A hot tear brushed my lips, and I tried to muffle a sob. Nothing seemed to be going right the past few weeks. Between the recent cold distance of one of my closest friends, the stress of my difficult schedule, and the nagging doubts of applying to college, I was finding my senior year to be nearly impossible. And now, after the embarrassment of tonight’s audition, I didn’t know how I could study or even sleep. I shut my biology book and placed it on the floor, emotions roiling as I buried my head in my pillow.

Then I heard my door open and the concerned voice of my mother. “Do you need a blessing?” she asked softly. I looked up, tempted to send her away. My puffy red face, streaked by wetness, held the imprint of my pillow’s seams. But I knew, even as I pulled myself into a sitting position so that I could see both my parents in my doorway, that tonight a blessing was what I needed most of all. I nodded wordlessly, sniffing a bit as I stood and followed my parents across the hall into their room.

I’ve heard of blessings given by pioneers. And even in modern times I’ve heard of blessings for fire victims, children in comas, and people who are not expected to survive. I had a testimony of the priesthood before that night. I had been given my patriarchal blessing two years prior and knew of the unique truthfulness and love it contained. But as my father placed his hands on my head that evening, I could feel divine power in his phrases, in the gentle pressure of his hands. His blessing swept past my superficial wants into what I needed to hear most. And as he concluded, my heart sang at the power in those words, those simple, healing words that I knew were not his. My father couldn’t remember what he had said, but I could, and my dark tangle of stress and fears had loosened into a soft and gentle peace.

I smiled at my mother, grateful for her inspired suggestion. As I turned around and hugged my father, I could feel in the warmth of his arms an echo of the love of my Heavenly Father and His Son, both watching and caring for me more than anyone else ever could. I felt so grateful for that single modest blessing, those quietly powerful, comforting words. That night I slept deeply for the first time in weeks, unworried and sure of my future as a beloved daughter of God.

[illustrations] Illustrated by Wilson Ong