Shaping Our Lives Through Choices with Church Historian Brittany Chapman Nash Draft

Forum with Brittany Chapman Nash
Brittany Chapman Nash

On April 5, the Southern Virginia University community gathered to hear Brittany Chapman Nash, a Latter-day Saint women’s history specialist and Church historian, share how decisions made regarding truth, companions, time, and character can have lasting impacts on one’s life.

“There are many limitless possible narratives for our lives based on our choices,” Nash said.  “We can choose who we become. And I believe that by making choices with imagination and faith, we will learn how to shape our lives as co-creations with God.” 

Highlighting the lives of Latter-day Saint women in history, Nash shared the story of Maria Guadalupe Monroy Mera, who converted to the church with her family and held fast to her beliefs despite persecution from her community.

“Monroy’s family embraced the gift of agency by committing themselves to a faith they chose with their hearts and minds,” Nash said. “Just how much this decision transformed their lives is impossible to calculate. Yet they exercised their agency over and over again to adhere to the gospel of Jesus Christ and to live in accordance with their convictions.”

Forum with Brittany Chapman Nash

Emphasizing the importance of having Christ-like companions, Nash recounted the story of Patience Loader Rozxa Archer, who joined the church in the 1800’s and chose to withdraw from the nightlife of England to live a life that followed the teachings of Christ.

“She exemplified the reality that sometimes it is better to remain alone than to be with people who are not healthy for you or who take you to places, literally or figuratively, that you do not want to go,” said Nash. “It is okay to say no and make a different choice for yourself. Your decision to prune a certain relationship and nurture others has a lasting impact on your story.”

Nash also spoke of Martha Cragun Cox, a struggling mother living in Utah in 1869, who chose to strengthen her character despite hardship by laying aside the burdens and anger she carried in her heart after experiencing meager funds and the death of two infant daughters.

“Martha’s consecrated determination to change, to free herself through forgiveness, letting go, and forgiving others in the face of real and weighty sorrow allowed light into her life once more, and she felt free,” Nash said. “I want to impart to you my witness that we exist so we can feel joy. That is God’s plan for our lives. It is the rule, not the exception.”

Forum with Brittany Chapman Nash

A student at Southern Virginia University from 2000–02, Nash shared her personal struggle of choosing a major that would best use her time and influence her future. Desiring to do good in the world, she studied vocal performance initially, but when she transferred to Brigham Young University, she realized she could still fulfill that dream as a humanities major.

“I yearned to do God’s work, but I did not know what that was,” Nash said. “I thought I had to do something impressive to change the world, and in my mind that was doing something public, visible, like performing music.”

“I realized that having a mind filled with good, true, and beautiful things could change the world because it would change me,” Nash continued. “When I explored the humanities, I felt excited and liberated for the first time in a long time. I finally saw clearly and chose a major for myself.”

The event featured a musical number, “The Prince Is Giving a Ball,” performed by the cast of the upcoming theatre production “Cinderella.” After Nash’s remarks, the campus community joined in singing the university anthem, “Love One Another.”