Before I left to spend two years in Peru, my sister and I told Dad in no uncertain terms that it was time for him to stop sharing his revelations with us, and that we did not want him to start filling our four younger brothers' heads with these ideas that had confused us so much over the years. He agreed. Reluctantly.
As Dad stalked his wives, I began letting his revelations go to my head. What does a teenager do with the knowledge that he would one day be a great and mighty prophet, instrumental in preparing the world for the Second Coming of Christ?
The Church had always been the center focus of my life. I continually tried to be the best, most obedient, worthiest child of God possible. I did what every good Mormon does--I accepted it all, with no doubts, questions, or reservations. I had faith. I practiced regular repentance. I prayed and read my scriptures regularly. This all brought warmth to my soul, and so did the "knowledge" that I would eventually be a key leader of the Saints in the Latter Days.
The only person with whom I could fathom sharing the details of my future was my best friend, Doug. In many ways he and I had a very spiritual relationship. We talked often of God, the gospel of Jesus Christ, of living righteously. We shared our deepest thoughts. So naturally, I told him about my father's words about me. I don't recall if I divulged all of my dad's teachings and beliefs, but Doug believed the part about me becoming a prophet of the Church.
This was my senior year. I was also the Seminary Council President, which gave me a profile of religious leadership among many of the high school student body. This same year, a large group of my friends and I were taking a class called "Family Life". Looking back, the teacher of this class, Mrs. Smith, was quite unorthodox for Utah Valley, and I don't doubt that she got a lot of parent complaints about her opinions and teaching strategies. (Side note: Mrs. Smith is actually the one person in my youth who made me take an honest look at who I am; she is also the one who vehemently blasted the people in our community who had stated that they would rather have a dead son than a gay one.) One week she decided to set up a mock scenario where the class had to discuss, debate, and decide who they would choose to be their leader if the students in our class were the last living people on Earth. I'm sure she had a good reason for posing this question to us and spending so much class time on it, but it occurs to me today that this was a ridiculous exercise.
After a couple of periods of talking about who our leader should be, and a lot of out of class discussion in the hallways, two names rose to the surface of our class of 17 and 18 year olds. A popular, athletic guy named Scott, and me. Scrawny little acne scarred me. I was bewildered. Yet a part of me was thrilled that after years of abuse, a group of my peers seemed to like and respect me so much.
The students in that class were split right down the middle, so Mrs. Smith encouraged more debate about how Scott's qualities and my own qualities were those that were necessary in a successful leader. The group remained divided until Doug spoke up.
"I know that Jason has a special purpose in this life. I know that he will one day be a very important leader. He is the one who should lead us."
The class sat quietly, processing.
My opponent, Scott, raised his hand. "Then I vote for Jason. We should all vote for Jason."
And that is exactly what happened. I was chosen to be their "leader" if all the inhabitants in the world were killed and we were the only survivors. Somehow, this confirmed what my own father had been saying for years now.
What is a teenager supposed to do with that?