Anyway, yesterday was my last day as a Laurel! I'm going to be an official adult in a couple of days, so it is on to Relief Society for me. I'm pretty excited - I love Relief Society ladies! Of course, I loved the Young Womens program as well, but it is definitely time to move on.
In honor of Mother's Day and perhaps as some sort of farewell to the program, I was asked to speak in Sacrament Meeting yesterday about Young Women Personal Progress, including how it prepares young women to become mothers in Zion. Brother Stout called me while I was on Tower of Terror, actually, and I almost answered haha. But I figured he wouldn't be able to hear me over the screams, so good thing he called again while I was in line for another ride!
The topic scared me at first, because I didn't know if I had much to say on the topic. But the more I thought and prayed about it, I was able to easily write a talk and gave it without coughing my lungs out yesterday (still recovering from my sickness!) So, without further ado, here is the talk that I gave yesterday!
I've been asked to speak on Young Women Personal Progress. I joined Young Womens right when they made all of the changes to the program, like adding “virtue” as one of the values. That was pretty convenient for me because I didn't have to make any adjustments in the middle of the process, and could dive right into the whole thing. Which I did, because I was really excited about Personal Progress! Unfortunately, at the time I saw it more as something I wanted to complete just to complete it rather than to learn and grow from the experience. So I finished it up pretty quick, and only later did I realize what a difference it made in my life.
On the first page of the Personal Progress book there is an often overlooked note from the first presidency that I encourage all of the young women here to check out sometime. There are a lot of things in it that we hear a lot, because of their importance. These things being truths like how we are beloved daughters of Heavenly Father who has blessed us with talents and abilities that will help us fulfill our divine missions. But it goes on to talk about the importance of the Personal Progress program. Though I think a lot of people just think of earning a medallion as the girl version of earning an eagle, Personal Progress is actually quite specific in its purposes.
As outlined in this note from the first presidency, one goal of Personal Progress is to help young women acquire daily personal habits that will strengthen her faith and testimony of Jesus Christ. A majority of the value experiences take quite some time to complete, as they are created with the intent of instilling habits into us young women that may not have been there before. In fact, the very first experience in the book is under the category of faith, where the young woman is required to create a habit of prayer. Only after three weeks of keeping the perfect habit of prayer can this experience be marked off, and by then there is no doubt that the young woman will have noticed the difference in her life and continue the habit that she has gained a testimony of. Like this example, all of the experiences in the book are created with the purpose of making a lifelong difference to each participant, rather than just being a one-day thing.
Another purpose of Personal Progress is to help young women recognize and develop their unique gifts. I don’t know about the rest of you, but I joined young womens at a really awkward age. At 12 years old, I didn't really know who I was and I definitely didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. I found Personal Progress to be fun, as it challenged me to try all sorts of things that I probably never would have tried. Divine Nature became my favorite value, because a big part of that one is developing skills that will benefit my life and especially my future life. As I went throughout the personal progress book, I found myself gravitating towards experiences and projects where I could make things and be creative. I found every excuse to do some sewing as part of my requirements, and I actually do owe some credit to Personal Progress for helping me discover my love of sewing. Personal Progress can be this way for everyone, as it is indeed personal and flexible enough that it can be specific to each girl and her talents.
Another goal of personal progress is to prepare young women to receive temple ordinances. Though personal progress is a great way for a young woman to develop as an individual regarding her talents and abilities, one of the most important parts of the program is how it can bring each participant closer to God, and therefore ready to make and keep covenants and receive ordinances that come quicker than any 12 year old could imagine.
Going back to the note from the first presidency, Personal Progress’s main goal is to prepare young women to be faithful wives and mothers. It is important to take a step back and see the bigger picture of personal progress, and realize how it is lined up perfectly to produce young women who will soon become mothers in Zion. Though that is still several years away for me, I can already see myself as a mother who has benefited from being a part of the young womens program. From it, I have been helped through the process of building up my testimony and preparing for my future role as a mother.
Looking at my own mother, I see a woman whose faith and strength I want to match, and I know that now is the time in my life when I can work on things to someday become a mother like she has been to me. I know that personal progress has been created because of that very reason; the importance of preparing young women who will soon be fulfilling their divine roles as mothers.
I testify of the power of the young womans program, which has been a huge blessing in my life. I know that it has been created by revelation with the purpose of refining us young women so that we can be the very best we can be. Today is actually my last day in the program, and as I move on to Relief Society and the rest of my life, I will always remember and treasure the essential things I've learned in the Young Womens Program. I say these things in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.
So, to all of my amazing young womens leaders out there, thank you so much for all you have done for me! I've never really connected with teenage girls, so I was always grateful for the wonderful women who ran the program. I've learned a lot from them and am so grateful for their righteous influence in my life. And, of course, I'll always be fond of all the girls I've met these past six years!