that one time I taught seminary

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 6.39.55 PMI read the following story about President Eyring’s dad, a physics professor at Princeton, a few months ago:

Because of his great love for science, Henry Eyring encouraged each of his sons to major in physics as preparation for a career in science. It was while Hal was studying physics at the University of Utah that an exchange with his father marked one of those defining influences. He asked his father for help with a complex mathematical problem. “My father was at a blackboard we kept in the basement,” Elder Eyring recalls. “Suddenly he stopped. ‘Hal,’ he said, ‘we were working this same kind of problem a week ago. You don’t seem to understand it any better now than you did then. Haven’t you been working on it?’”

A little chagrined, Hal admitted he had not. “You don’t understand,” his father went on. “When you walk down the street, when you’re in the shower, when you don’t have to be thinking about anything else, isn’t this what you think about?”

“When I told him no,” Elder Eyring concludes, “my father paused. It was really a very tender and poignant moment, because I knew how much he loved me and how much he wanted me to be a scientist. Then he said, ‘Hal, I think you’d better get out of physics. You ought to find something that you love so much that when you don’t have to think about anything, that’s what you think about.’

I’ve been taking a teaching seminary class since the beginning of fall semester, and I taught a class last week as a little trial run. It was so much harder than I though it would be. I hadn’t really slept the night before because I was so worried that the lesson I’d prepared would be horrible and everyone would hate it. I even had a nightmare that most of the kids in the class ditched so they wouldn’t have to listen to me.

As I drove up to the high school I started panicking. I’d never taught teenagers before, and what do I even know? I’d forgotten how scary high school was. After the teacher confused me for one of the students, I went up to the front of the class with sweaty palms and a knot in my throat.

I taught them about pitching their tents towards the temple and about service. I was impressed by their stories, their testimonies, and their willingness to share them with a complete stranger. I lost them about halfway through the lesson and didn’t get them back until I brought out pumpkin chocolate chip cookies as class was about to end.

After class, a girl came up to me to thank me and apologize for being late to class. (Another girl told me my dress was super cute, but that’s neither here nor there.) As scary as teaching teenagers was, I can’t wait to do it again. I want to spend my whole life being stretched by this.

I think I found my something.


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