Monday, February 02, 2009

A Return to Virtue

The Young Women theme has changed, again. I remember when the theme first changed, that is, when it first changed for me. Before that point I thought YW was kind of a static program. You know, that my mom did it and that her mom did it and that her mom did it, and so forth. In reality it changes constantly to adapt to the needs of the YW today. Go figure. But I didn't learn that until I started working at the HBLL and got to go through every church manual for decades.

I had memorized the theme back in April or May of 1997--I was so excited to go to YW that I memorized the theme before I even turned 12, which isn't very surprizing because I had actually wanted to go to YW for my whole life. I was always so jealous of my older sisters who got to go to weekly activities and make crafts and go camping and do fun things like that. My sister Abra and I shared a room for a while and the YW theme hung on our wall. I wanted so badly to turn 12 before she turned 18, but as luck would have it we didn't magically get closer in age and she "graduated" from YW before I "graduated" into YW.

So I had been reading the theme for several years, dreaming of what it would be like to get to stand in a circle and hold hands with my sisters in Zion and repeat the theme together (as was customary in our ward), before I actually sat down one day to memorize it. Because there was this one time in my life that I vaugely remember, before I entered the haze of motherhood, when I actually could sit down and memorize something in one day.

I had it memorized absolutely flawlessly for a good 5 years. Then, in 2002, they changed it on me, right before I was due to "graduate" from YW. I had it memorized so perfectly that I could almost say it backwards. And I can't even say the alphabet backwards without thinking too hard, so that tells you something right there.

They added the words "strengthen home and family," to the end of the theme so that it read,
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.
I began to stammer when I recited the theme, being so worried the whole way through that I would forget to say "strengthen home and family." It was a wonderful reminder to me, as a young woman, that families are important. Every time I worried about whether or not I would say "strengthen home and family" I would worry a little about if I was strengthening my home and family.

After a few months I had fully ingrained this little phrase into my mind and was able to say the theme again without tripping over my words. And then I left Young Women and entered the beautiful world of Relief Society, leaving the YW theme behind me.

I liked it when the young women would join the Relief Society for opening exercises and we would all stand to repeat the YW them together. I kind of reveled in my youth, pleased that I was one of the few "old" sisters that could say the YW theme right because I had been in YW when they changed it. I was young and I could prove it because I could say "strengthen home and family" without stuttering.

Well, I just got old, I guess, because I really don't know what I'm going to do now that they've added the eighth value of "virtue" to the YW theme, so that it reads:
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:

Faith
Divine Nature
Individual Worth
Knowledge
Choice and Accountability
Good Works
Integrity
Virtue

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.
"Good Works and Integrity" rolls off my tongue like "peanut butter and jelly." Saying "Integrity and Virtue" will be like saying "peanut butter and peanut butter." It sticks to the roof of my mouth.

However, what a wonderful reminder it is to me, as a less-young woman, that families are important, that virtue is important, and that integrity, good works, choice and accountablity, knowlege, individual worth, divine nature, and faith are important.

In 1995 I didn't think The Family: A Proclamation to the World would ever be such a prophetic, true document. But it is.

I am often surprised, when I get reacquainted with people I knew growing up, how many people I know who have no desire to get married or to have children and/or who blatantly misuse the God-given commandment to multiply and replenish the earth. I think it is an issue that we can't take casually. I am glad that the YW today will be learning more about virtue and that all the YW I know become virtuous women.

I'm thrilled for Rosie to be starting YW, even though that means that I'm old enough to be an aunt to a young woman, and I'm so happy that Josie is still in YW, because that means that I'm young enough to still have a sister in YW. I hope that you both know that, as virtuous young women, your price is far above rubies. I love you both. Have fun tripping over "virtue" for the next little while.

9 comments:

  1. Hey- I'm letting everyone know that I have now started my own blog and hope you'll check it out some time. Visit at
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    -Ashley

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  2. Wow! The things you learn from reading a blog. I just got out of being the Beehive adviser in Aug...and was just filling good about the 'streghten home and family' part...now we have to add virtue... hum, should make things interesting.

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  3. YW changed the year I entered it, back in 1988 - that's when they introduced the new Personal Progress book as I knew it for several years. Shortly after that, they introduced the new camp book. And I'm not anywhere NEAR as old as your mom!

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  4. Imagine how old you'll feel when RACHEL enters YW! I think it's kind of neat though to have a daughter and sister in YW together. They could in two years go to EFY together! How awesome is that!

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  5. I first heard about that a couple Sundays ago when the YW came in and we all did the theme together. I also had the theme memorized before I entered YW. Though in my case it was an effort to not look like a newbie. They added "strengthen home and families" after I left so I never got used to that one. To this day it always surprises me in placement. (I always think it's in a different spot than it actually is!) *sighs* I bet they'll call me to YW one day and I'll have to regale them with stories of "when I was your age, the theme was different..."

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  6. When I was pre-mutual age (we didn't even call it young women back in the dinosaur era--nowhere NEAR the time that Heidi was born) I couldn't WAIT to be old enough because I wanted to do honor badges! (You don't even know what I am talking about, do you?!) My mom was a leader, and she got to read the honor badges the girls did. It was like doing homework, writing a paper, doing a project, that kind of thing. And I have always been nerdy enough to enjoy that! I was so sad when I got in their and we just had a stupid book to write goals in. And no theme. Just a theme of the year, which was a scripture. But no theme just for the females, like the one you have.

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  7. I can't remember what year this goal was from--I went through pretty much every church manual in existence (all the YW, RS, missionary handbooks, etc) with all the time doing the donations from the church library when I worked in acquisitions...and again when I worked in Spec. Coll.

    Anyway, I was going through this one YW manual--from back when there really were dinosaurs, probably before you were even born, mom. The goal was: sleep with your window open.

    No joke.

    There were also a lot of goals dealing with bee keeping. I'm pretty sure that was back from right when the Saints settled in the SL Valley. A TON of bee keeping goals. I'm pretty sure that's where we got "beehives" from, kind of how we got "Mia Maids" from MIA.

    Anyway, good stuff out there. I just didn't know the program had changed so much when I was, you know, 12. Or even 17.

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