Fifty Days As a Foolish Virgin

It all started innocently enough. Some friends invited me to hike Mount Timpanogos (a grueling 12-hour, seven-mile hike to the summit of our tallest nearby peak.) I have wanted to do that for years! But we had an open house scheduled for my daughter that weekend, and my house wasn’t clean enough to be spending a full day in the mountains beforehand. Also, I hadn’t trained. I’d been walking/hiking nearly every day this past summer, but short, fun hikes—nothing that would prepare me for an ascent like Timp. So I declined.

Just a week or so later I was walking into our cousin’s wedding, only to be told that I couldn’t enter. I glanced down, and sure enough my recommend had expired. (This was a Mormon wedding, where the couple is not just married until “death do us part,” but sealed for all eternity in one of our sacred temples. Only those with recommends can enter and attend.) I was worthy, but had failed to take the final two steps—be interviewed by my ecclesiastical leaders. Feeling incredibly foolish, I sat out the ceremony in the lobby.

Fast-forward to last week. I had a painting accepted into the Utah Watercolor Society’s Fall Exhibition. This is one of my favorite paintings I’ve done in a while and I was excited to see it framed and hanging in a gallery. This time I made sure to allow a few weeks for framing, so I could order custom materials rather than settling for what was in stock. I chose the most expensive museum glass so it would be expertly protected. I made arrangements for my son to deliver the painting for me (he lives in Salt Lake). This time I would not be foolish.

Then our son cancelled his trip to our house, so I was back to square one. Feeling flexible and quick on my feet, I arranged for my husband to drop off the painting when he went to Salt Lake the next day. He would just have to leave a little early. Perfect. I had a relaxing day with my family, and when it was approaching time for my husband to leave, I pulled up the email with delivery instructions for the show to give him the address.

As I read through the email I discovered something alarming. The delivery cut-off was an hour earlier than I’d thought. There was no way to get the painting to Salt Lake in time. I was out of the show. My painting was finished, framed, but I failed to deliver. So you will not be seeing this painting at the Visual Art Institute in Salt Lake City this weekend. Why? Because I’m a Foolish Virgin. I’ve been a Foolish Virgin for 50 straight days without even realizing it.

In the Bible, Jesus tells the allegory of the Ten Virgins—five who are wise, and five who are foolish. The wise virgins have their lamps filled, their wicks trimmed, and when the bridegroom comes, they follow him into his chambers. The foolish virgins haven’t prepared their lamps, and they make a futile attempt to borrow oil from the five who were prepared. In the meantime, the doors are locked and they are left outside.

There is a reason Jesus calls himself "Author and Finisher of our Salvation." It turns out that finishing is a pretty big deal. And a lot of the time, it's a deal-breaker.

In each scenario above, I had done most of the work, gone through most of the process, and was just missing one or two simple steps at the end. I had some oil in my vessel. Just not quite enough. But I had some very real, somewhat painful experiences where I was left out, shut out, locked out. There were no exceptions. The finishing had to be done by the appointed hour.

Who do I WANT to be? An avid hiker. a summiter. The hostess with the mostest. A loving and supportive wedding guest. An artist in a show. What’s stopping me? My own inability to finish things.

Thank heaven The Living Room has recorded a show this week called, “Who Do You Want To Be…And What’s Stopping You?” This foolish virgin will be not just listening in, but taking notes.



   Jana Winters Parkin is an artist, writer, teacher, and adjunct art professor at UVU. She and her husband have 3 kids and 2 dogs, and she spends every day possible rejuvenating her soul in Utah's glorious mountains. She writes at and exhibits her work at

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