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Whitney Permann of Mercy River

May 31, 2012

I had my life all planned out. As a senior in high school, I planned to follow a dream and be a cheerleader at Ricks College. End of story. But when our elite choir got invited to sing in New York City’s Carnegie Hall the EXACT same day as the college tryouts, I was faced with a very painful dilemma.

I had to choose.

I had to choose between two good things. Two dreams. Two loves. It seemed horribly unfair. I couldn’t imagine surrendering a life-long dream to cheer in college, but neither could I fathom turning down an opportunity to sing in Carnegie Hall. Either decision left my young heart grief-stricken; either way I lost something dear. There was no where to go but my knees. 

I prayed, fasted, counseled with my parents, and got father’s blessings. It was the first time I had really sought the Lord’s will for my life--because, for the first time, things weren’t going according to plan.

After a great spiritual wrestle, I decided to go to New York--and thus heavy-heartedly close the door on the “cheerleading chapter” of my life. I held onto the hope that this was the right decision. Even so, as the choir bus pulled out of the parking lot on its way to NYC a few weeks later, I leaned my head against the window and sobbed. Everything inside of me screamed to get off that bus.

But I didn’t. I sang Handel’s Messiah in historic Carnegie Hall on Palm Sunday. I humbly (if not stubbornly) surrendered my will to the Lord, then asked, “What now?” Little did I know how big His plans were for me.

Since I wouldn’t be cheering as planned, I decided instead to audition for a show choir at Ricks called, “Showtime Company.” Miraculously, I made the choir, and enjoyed some of the choicest experiences of my life as a member of this group. My testimony of the Savior exploded. I learned how to reach out to others and share the gospel through music. One year in Showtime gave me more than a dozen years of college cheerleading ever could have.

But the biggest blessing of this group wasn’t the performing or the touring or even the friends. It was Rock Permann--another member of the choir. Rock, who came from a family of BYU fanatics, was devastated to be the only sibling not accepted to the Y. Faced with his own “change in plans,” he attended Ricks College instead, became a member of Showtime Company, and met me. 

Two years later, we were married.

Looking back on my path, I am certain that the Lord guided me directly to him. All the tears, the pain, the heartache, the questions, the unknowns...they were all leading me to him. Yes, I had good--GREAT--plans for my life, but the Lord had bigger, better, and more beautiful plans in mind. 

It’s quite a startling thing to realize that something is not going to happen as you thought it would. It is shocking to know that you have to change, that things will be different. (How does that saying go? “When you make plans the Lord laughs”?) It might be a job that wasn’t offered, a relationship that didn’t work out, or a home that was lost. It could be an unanswered prayer, a missed opportunity, or a dream that never came true.

We must trust that someday--if not in this life, for sure in the next--we can look back and see how all the twists and turns in the road make sense--how they all worked together to lead us to where we were supposed to be all along. We must trust that God knows what He’s doing. And maybe--just maybe--we should loosen the grip we have on our own plans and dreams, and have faith that He can exchange “beauty for ashes” (Isaiah 61:3).

After all--He’s got it all planned out.