Wednesday, March 23, 2016

"And All Was Well": Writing my own footnote 15.

In 2011, I began law school. As I began, I had goals. One was to be a constitutional lawyer. The other was to be a human being, and figure things out about life, serve in my church, and maybe even find my wife. I was told, of course, that you needed the top grades in order to be a constitutional lawyer. Those well-versed in my life will note challenges I faced in other aspects of my life in 2011, and on through the present; others will not.

These challenges left me needing a great deal of faith. I found comfort in a story President Uchtdorf told in the October 2011 general conference:

"Let me share with you a personal experience that may be of some help to those who feel insignificant, forgotten, or alone.

Many years ago I attended pilot training in the United States Air Force. I was far away from my home, a young West German soldier, born in Czechoslovakia, who had grown up in East Germany and spoke English only with great difficulty. I clearly remember my journey to our training base in Texas. I was on a plane, sitting next to a passenger who spoke with a heavy Southern accent. I could scarcely understand a word he said. I actually wondered if I had been taught the wrong language all along. I was terrified by the thought that I had to compete for the coveted top spots in pilot training against students who were native English speakers.

When I arrived on the air base in the small town of Big Spring, Texas, I looked for and found the Latter-day Saint branch, which consisted of a handful of wonderful members who were meeting in rented rooms on the air base itself. The members were in the process of building a small meetinghouse that would serve as a permanent place for the Church. Back in those days members provided much of the labor on new buildings.

Day after day I attended my pilot training and studied as hard as I could and then spent most of my spare time working on the new meetinghouse. There I learned that a two-by-four is not a dance step but a piece of wood. I also learned the important survival skill of missing my thumb when pounding a nail.

I spent so much time working on the meetinghouse that the branch president—who also happened to be one of our flight instructors—expressed concern that I perhaps should spend more time studying.

. . .. For my part, I enjoyed being an active part of this tiny west Texas branch, practicing my newly acquired carpentry skills, and improving my English as I fulfilled my callings to teach in the elders quorum and in Sunday School.

At the time, Big Spring, despite its name, was a small, insignificant, and unknown place. And I often felt exactly the same way about myself—insignificant, unknown, and quite alone. Even so, I never once wondered if the Lord had forgotten me or if He would ever be able to find me there. I knew that it didn’t matter to Heavenly Father where I was, where I ranked with others in my pilot training class, or what my calling in the Church was. What mattered to Him was that I was doing the best I could, that my heart was inclined toward Him, and that I was willing to help those around me. I knew if I did the best I could, all would be well.

And all was well."

At the end of the story, President Uchtdorf dropped a footnote, footnote 15: "Dieter F. Uchtdorf graduated first in his class."

What a comforting story that was for me as a young law student. I often wondered what I would put someday in my own footnote 15 about my law school experience. Would it match his, only with my name inserted in place of his? What would life hold in store for me? Would I be able to do work in my area of interest, religious freedom?

Well now I have a start to my own footnote 15, formed from the same principles that led to President Uchtdorf's footnote 15: trusting in the Lord. It is a much longer footnote, but I hope it conveys how richly blessed I have been since 2011:

Michael T. Worley met the future Alizabeth Worley on December 11, 2014. On October 6, 2014 they were married, and their first son <Name redacted> Worley, was born on March __, 2016. Michael is able to work from home, thus maximizing his time with Alizabeth and <N.R.W.> (not his real initials).

After being told for years that he would have to leave his beloved Provo to practice constitutional law, Michael and Lizzie are living in Provo. Michael routinely assists more seasoned litigators on briefs for the United States Supreme Court. In his first case ever in Federal District Court, Michael and his senior partner won on constitutional law grounds. Michael routinely represents clients of many religions and is working to defend religious freedom.

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