Thursday, February 26, 2009

Devotional Lesson

When I was in my second year at BYU, President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke at a Tuesday morning devotional. In anticipation of hearing the prophet speak, I made plans with my roommates and friends to go early and save a few seats for my roommate, who was having a birthday, and a few other people that had class right up until 10:50, making it difficult to get to the Marriott Center in time for any 11am devotional, more especially one of this magnitude.

My cute chubby face back then.

Once we got into the Marriott Center and found the best available seats, which were about half way up to the top and towards the left of the podium (hardly coveted seats), I set my backpack down on the one seat I was charged with saving for my dear birthday-having roommate. And as I saved this seat, I blatantly ignored the guilt trip that came over the PA in the form of “Saving seats is unfair and not allowed. Do not save seats. You are dishonest if you save seats because we decided that this was a rule and you are not following it. DO NOT SAVE SEATS.”

After the announcement had come over the PA several times, one young man, I’ll call him Judge Judy, came up to me, asked me if I was saving the seat next to me. I said that I was, returned to my reading, realized he had not left, and he asked me to move my backpack. I said that I wouldn't. He insisted, I insisted, then he threatened to get a dreaded security guard.

Back then, I was a coward, and wanted to do everything I could to avoid getting in “trouble” at all costs. These days I would have told him to go ahead, and if he actually DID get a security guard, and the guard actually DID ask me to move my backpack, I would have complied. But back then I was a big old pansy who was desperately afraid of incurring the wrath of the "man."

So I got scared. And I moved my backpack. And Judge Judy moved right into the seat next to me. But it didn't end there. No it did not folks. Mr. Judge became my own personal judge, my Jiminy Cricket, my conscience.

As he sat in the seat he had taken from my birthday-roommate, he criticized me for saving a seat, saying that he didn't understand how anyone could purport to want to hear the words of the prophet and actually refuse to comply with simple rules. He said he found it ironic that I was so concerned with saving a seat for my friend, but not concerned about following the rules that the almighty, super righteous security team had come up with. How could I claim to be a disciple of Christ and a true BYU student while so purposely breaking such an important rule?

This continued for several minutes. People sitting around me had tried to intervene on my behalf, but Judy maintained that he was talking only to me. Once I could contain my frustration no more and had been reduced to tears, the only thing I could muster the courage to say was, “Where do you get off being so self-righteous?”

And this was his response—the response that I will never forget, and I laugh at today, but only half-heartedly because this poor, delusional soul actually meant what he said—which was

“Is it self-righteous? Or just righteous?”

And out of fear, stupidity, and sheer desire to hear the words of the prophet, I sat next to him for the duration of the devotional. And I have no idea what it was that President Hinckley said that day because I was too busy crying and contemplating the meaning of life and arbitrary rules. So instead of being instructed by the Lord's anointed, I was instructed by a guy I "fondly" refer to as Judge Judy.


  1. Oh wow. What a tool. And I love the "made up" rules!

  2. Ewwww, lemme at him!! What a creep! I'm sure there are rules about punching, but I think that's exactly what I would've done. Socked him right in the eye and then told him to go to hell, and then I would've been kicked off campus and had to have gone to some other school like the U...:) I'm glad you didn't suffer a similar fate. :) BTW I LOVE heavy whipping cream too. I have a carton of it in my fridge waiting for the right dessert to come along. xoxox

  3. governing by guilt I guess. this is a HILLRIOUS story. Hopefully now that we're all a little bit older, lame-o judge judy would realize how incredibly STUPID that comment was. But then again, maybe not. Seems he had a lot of balls to begin with, may take him quite a while to catch up with the rest of us. Clearly saving a birthday seat is not a mean thing to do, but talking to you like that sure was!
    ps. That's a lame rule that needed to be broken that day anyhow.

  4. Sadly, this is not hard to believe. Some people seriously need a reality-check. And the answer to his seemingly poignant question is: self-righteous.

  5. My first reaction was a bit like lizandfrankfamily. I thought the guy should've been punched in the face. But, upon further reflection on the matter, I have concluded that he did not deserve such a dignified blow. He deserved to be humiliatingly pimp-slapped. Much more appropriate, I think. Interesting that he thought himself so righteous that he was above the Savior's admonition to "judge not, that ye be not judged". Of course, here will all sit, judging him. Human nature is great, isn't it.

  6. That's the funny thing about BYU: any rule, no matter how arbitrary, becomes the gospel. Reading this post made me have a flashback to that meaningless guilt and reminded me why I will never live in Utah County ever ever again.

  7. I totally remember this particular devotional... I was one of the crazy co-eds that actually slept on the cold concrete outside of the Marriot Center to get a seat in front. We did, in fact, have awesome seats (you know, those blue cushy ones down on the main floor) but I was too tired to even remember what the prophet said that day.

    It would have been great if you could have turned to Judge Judy and said, "you know, you're right. I probably shouldn't be saving this seat. I'm not a perfect person and that is why I need to hear the Prophet's message today. But I don't think that you are handling my imperfection in a very Christlike manner so I guess we both need to be here equally."


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