Sunday, March 10, 2013

A Mormon-y post. Cause it's Sunday.

For the past three years or so, I served as a Gospel Doctrine teacher in my ward (local congregation), which for you nomos means I taught Sunday School to the grown ups. Recently, they assigned me to the Young Women program, which caters to girls between the ages of 12 and 18. I'm the Personal Progress advisor, which basically means I help the girls set and meet different goals. See what the Church has to say about it here.

The church has (what I think is) a problematic tendency to reduce girls' roles to only future mothering and wifery when we all know that women can be those things (or not) and also so much more. In the talk that I gave last week at New Beginnings, I tried to avoid saying the words "wife" and "mother," focusing instead on the incredible individuals that they are right now.

Personal Progress: Stand in Holy Places No Matter Where You Are
Good evening everyone. I’m thrilled to be serving with the Young Women again and to be here at New Beginnings celebrating your achievements. It’s wonderful to have parents and leaders here to support us and to remind us how valuable our young women are to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Personal Progress extends an invitation to "Come unto Christ and be perfected in him.” This should be our earthly goal: to become more like our Savior and heavenly parents. This is what makes our church so special: we are expected not just to be obedient, but also to be transformed, to become godlike. And I truly believe that the Young Women program and Personal Progress is specifically designed to help us do this by acquainting us with our heavenly parents, our Savior Jesus Christ, and ourselves.

I’d like to read two passages from the church’s official website; the first is about the Young Women program and the second is about Personal Progress, specifically.

You have a noble responsibility to use your strength and influence for good. Your loving Heavenly Father has blessed you with talents and abilities that will help you fulfill your divine mission. As you learn to accept and act upon the Young Women values in your life, you will form personal habits of prayer, scripture study, obedience to the commandments, and service to others. These daily personal habits will strengthen your faith in and testimony of Jesus Christ. They will also allow you to recognize and develop your unique gifts.

“The Personal Progress program uses the eight Young Women values to help you understand more fully who you are, why you are here on the earth, and what you should be doing as a daughter of God to prepare for the day you go to the temple to make sacred covenants…. Participating in Personal Progress teaches you to make commitments, carry them out, and report your progress to a parent or leader” (

This skill—setting and completing goals and being accountable for them—will be useful in every facet of your life now and every avenue you might possibly pursue. Furthermore, each of the goals laid out for you in your Personal Progress book (and now, conveniently, online) should be considered a spiritual and intellectual investment in yourself. I promise you that you will not be able to help but grow and improve as you engage in Personal Progress.
Each of the eight Young Women values—which are faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue—requires the completion of six value “experiences” and one ten-hour, individually designed value “project.” As you complete the experiences and projects for each of the Young Women values, you will receive an emblem and a scripture ribbon. If you complete the experiences and projects for all the values, attend sacrament meeting and seminary, keep a journal, and read The Book of Mormon regularly, you will be eligible to receive your Young Womanhood Recognition. But more importantly, you will have invested countless hours in yourself and your personal relationship with the divine.
This year, the Youth Theme is “Stand ye in holy places and be not moved.” Regarding this theme, Sister Elaine S. Dalton has said, “Our hope for young women is that they will always be worthy to enter the most holy place on earth—the temple. As storms rage around us, as moral pollution continues to accumulate, we hope each young woman can be worthy of the constant companionship of the Holy Ghost. We hope she can find refuge from the storms and come to know that she is not alone. This is a time of great opportunity for each young woman to truly ‘stand … in holy places.’”
Tonight, our theme is “Stand in holy places, no matter where you are.” When I was a teenager, I could attend the temple as often as I could get a ride. For about a year, my brother and I did baptisms for the dead every Thursday morning before school. But that was in Salt Lake City. Here in Los Angeles, it’s not that easy. And in your lives, it may not get easier. There may be times when you are separated from the temple by great distances, both literal and figurative. But you can still stand in holy places. In 1 Corinthians 3:16 we read, “Know ye not that ye are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” I truly believe that by investing time and hard work in your minds, hearts, and souls, you can come to know and resemble your Savior. I predict that as you develop these values in yourselves, you will begin to recognize them in others as well. And if we all use these gifts we’ve cultivated to mourn with those who mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort, than we will create holy places everywhere we go.  I believe that by following the teachings of Jesus and improving ourselves through programs like Personal Progress, we can truly stand in holy places, no matter where we are.


morgan said...

Best line:
But more importantly, you will have invested countless hours in yourself and your personal relationship with the divine.

Such a great way to look at it. I was a young women's teacher for laurels in my San Diego ward and found it so hard to teach from the manual with all the wife and mother talk. I am glad the girls in your ward have you around to keep them from limiting their view of womanhood to those two roles.

Lisa said...

I thought your remarks were perfect when I heard them, and I still do. And I am very fortunate that my own daughter gets to learn from you.

Also, I have decided that one of the reasons I love reading your blog is that I learn so much about modern vernacular. Nomos - love it!