We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. We will “stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are:
Choice and Accountability
We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values,
we will be prepared to
strengthen home and family,
make and keep sacred covenants,
receive the ordinances of the temple,
and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.
-Young Women Theme of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints
Every Sunday for a majority of my life I have recited this theme, and my daughter now recites it too. Although it is short it teaches a multitude of concepts valuable to a growing teenage girl. This theme springs from a program suited to the needs of girls that are quickly becoming adults in a complicated world, the Young Women’s Program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Because our society is full of ills and confusing ideas, I am grateful that I had this bountiful program as a support during my youth, that my teenage daughter has it to reinforce the values we teach at home, and that I have the opportunity to serve other young women, my sisters, in this special organization that God has created for his precious daughters.
As a teenager I became aware of the ways that my home was different from the idyllic family life the church espouses. This gap that sometimes existed between the ideals taught and my imperfect family life was difficult to navigate and understand. The wonderful leaders I had in the Young Women program and the virtues I learned there helped me increase in my testimony of Jesus Christ, while still participating in an imperfect family (as we all are!). On days that I felt lost and alone, I remembered what I learned at church, that I am a daughter of God and he is always there for me. In the years since graduating out of the YW program (at 18) I have been amazed by the influence it still has in my life. The skills I learned, the fun I had, the examples of righteous living I witnessed, the scriptures I read, the list goes on and on – it all continues to influence my life in great ways,
Now my teenage daughter is a Young Woman in the church. While her dad and I do all we can to teach her at home, we know that in this world it is not enough. We need support from another source, and so does she — and the youth program provides it. Recently one of her leaders said, “I’ve noticed such a huge difference in your daughter since the summer. She really is growing and increasing her testimony. But you probably already know that.”
Actually I did need her to tell me that! Although I’m with my daughter every day, it can be hard to gauge her overall growth. The leaders in the Young Women program act as a back-up example for my daughter. She sees that her dad and I aren’t the only ones telling her that she is precious, that God loves her, or that she should stay chaste. One aspect of the young women’s program is especially helpful to me as a parent, the Personal Progress Program. It is a series of goals based on the values in the theme that prepare girls for a successful life and strengthen their relationship with Christ. With life being as complicated as it is, we could tie ourselves in knots trying to address all her needs alone. The Young Women program is full, encompassing many areas of study (not only the gospel, but such things as education, community service, the arts, etc.) while at the same time being tailored to the needs and talents of each young woman. Through completing the Personal Progress Program my daughter will become strong in her testimony of Jesus Christ and well rounded.
With the Mormon Church being a church of lay clergy (not full-time or paid), every member has the opportunity to serve. Many of the responsibilities I have held in the church have been with the young women. I love teenagers! They are so fun, ever ready for a laugh, they make me feel young, and their growing testimonies are strengthening to my own. In this difficult world they valiantly stand up for what they know is true. When they do make mistakes they know that they can repent and that their Heavenly Father is ever ready to love and support them. Young women are precious to God, I feel his love for them as I serve.
(two young women after a flour fight in my kitchen)
Recently the world leader of the young women’s program, Elaine Dalton, said:
“Our desire is to help young women be worthy and pure and to prepare every young woman to receive the blessings and ordinances of the temple. We will work tirelessly with your daughters, with you, and with priesthood and Young Women leaders to protect and strengthen and prepare our precious young women to be virtuous and pure and live the standards that will help them be free and happy and allow them to reach their divine potential. We know that we are all elect daughters of God. We also know that each one of us has a great work to perform.”
It is wonderful to have the support of a church that has these ideals in mind for me, my daughter, and all young women.