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BYU Devotional: Navigating "The Undiscover'd Country"

Chris Crowe, professor of English and English education, delivered Tuesday’s Devotional address in the de Jong Concert Hall. Crowe spoke about navigating Hamlet’s “undiscover’d country” and how to face uncertainties.

As an English professor, Crowe knows that suspense is vital to a story. Not knowing what is going to happen encourages us to keep reading, keep watching, keep listening. We follow the plot through to the end and hope to be surprised. Predictability leads to a story not worthy of our attention.

In life, we want very much the opposite. “We crave predictability. Not only do we want to know where we’re headed, but we really want to know when and how we’ll get there,” Crowe said.

Change is an inevitable constant. As we grow, our goals will change with us. Our vision of the perfect life needs to adapt as new opportunities for growth arise. Crowe emphasized the importance of having flexibility and relying on prayer through various times of change in his life.

Chris Crowe

Growing up, Crowe wasn’t a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, though he had positive experiences with Church members. Through both his now wife and his decision to play football at BYU, Crowe felt inspired to visit with the missionaries. He believed in the teachings, but he wasn’t sure he was willing to accept the changes adopting the teachings would bring. His lifestyle, mindset and family life would all drastically change.

Through prayer, he decided to be baptized into the Church despite the fear of the unknown. “I didn’t have a vision or a burning in my bosom, or any sort of obvious manifestation that would have made the decision easy, but I did, finally, feel the answer, and it wasn’t the answer I wanted [because it would mean being disowned by my family],” Crowe said.

Upon graduating college, he needed to find a job and a place to start a life with his wife. Overwhelmed with the options and timetable, they began to plan and prepare. Once they began to pray, they were given their answer. They made their way to Ogden, and then Arizona, where they thought they would spend the rest of their lives.

Ten years later, they were given the option to further Crowe’s career at a university in Japan. After close counseling with loved ones and ecclesiastical leaders, they decided that it was not the path for them.

Once they prayed, however, they found the answer they didn’t want to hear: go to Japan.

After growing and becoming stronger in his field during their two years abroad, he received an offer from BYU-Hawaii to teach in their English department.

“We knew beyond a doubt that we had finally reached our last stop. It would take a tsunami or some other act of God to pry us from our bright little island in the Pacific,” Crowe said.

Once he received an offer to transfer to BYU, Crowe and his wife discussed the decision. They counseled with each other and others, made pro and con lists, studied their options and made the decision to turn down the offer.

“We still had one step to complete. We had to pray about it. We had to be sensitive enough to seek the Spirit and then be sensitive enough to discern our Heavenly Father’s will through the shouted objections of our own will. And it was tough…” Crowe said, “I guess you know how that ended up.”

When he and his wife took the time to ponder and pray about the decisions in their lives, they were given an answer. Even though it was rarely the path they had planned and prepared for, they were given an answer as to what they should do.

“We learned that our Heavenly Father loves us and that He has a plan for us, and that if we take the time to ponder and pray, we can learn His will for us,” Crowe said. “We learned that such pondering and praying isn’t easy, and it isn’t always fun, but it has always blessed us, especially when life smacked us with hard, sometimes heartbreaking experiences.”

Next Devotional: Amy Tanner

Amy Tanner, the undergraduate coordinator for the Mathematics Education department, will deliver the next BYU Devotional on Tuesday, July 11, at 11:05 a.m. in the de Jong Concert Hall.

Her remarks will also be broadcast live on BYUtv,, KBYU-TV 11, Classical 89 FM and BYUradio.

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