Monday, April 29, 2013

For the Strength of Youth (and everyone else too!)

Life is hard for everyone, but being a teenager is especially hard.  High school was not an easy time for me, especially because I often felt like the odd-one out  with regards to religion.  While it is true that I was the only Mormon at my high school, I was certainly not the only individual with high moral standards. There were lots of students from all sorts of religious backgrounds that adhered to a set a values- some the same as and some different from my own.  I was always encouraged by friends who followed their beliefs.
 Often people that I wasn't super good friends with would say to me, with regards to my obedience to my standards, "It is neat that you do that. I could never do that!"   I loved their supportive words, but I disagreed with them. If they wanted to, they could do what I did. Perhaps they couldn't do it alone, but I truly believe that 'with God all things are possible.'
Some things in life just require faith, but many things have a clear reasons and purposes. When I was in high school I loved having my For the Strength of Youth pamphlet.  It helped me realize where the Lord's guidelines are. It's now available online and whether you want to read it to help give you strength and realize what aspects of your life you might want to improve on, or if you want to read just out of curiosity of what Mormons typically do and do not here is a link. -
It is in this little book that many people come off with comments such as "You can't drink coffee. You can't watch R rated movies. You can't swear." Let me assure you that I am perfectly capable of doing all of those things, however, I chose not to because I don't think they benefit me and my life.
Now that I am graduated from college, married, and blessed with a lovely daughter, I can see with such clarity how my life is richly blessed because I followed these guidelines. There were certainly days when I was frustrated because my friends went out to party on weekend and I didn't go (nor was I invited which I considered to be awesome- They already knew that I didn't engage in such activities.)  My only regrets from high school are that I should have dressed less like a tom-boy, I should have tried out for track, and I should have swam the 500 at the swim meet.  I love being free from regrets. Not only that, I was able to have the spirit of the Lord with me to help me make decisions and keep me safe.
I was thinking about the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet and decided to look over it again. I found that there were still parts it that I could improve on.

The standards (which are addressed in just a few paragraphs each) are as follows.
Agency and Accountability
Dating (Yes, I'm married so this doesn't apply directly to me so much anymore)
Dress and Appearance
Entertainment and the Media
Honesty and Integrity
Music and Dancing
Physical and Emotional Health
Sabbath Day Observance
Sexual Purity
Tithes and Offerings
Work and Self-Reliance

Now, if you are not Mormon, you might be looking at that list thinking "Wow, they dictate every aspect of your life!" That is not how I see it. No one every said to me, "you have to do all these things or you are a bad person and you'll never get to heaven."  That is not what these are all about.  Yes, they cover a wide range of topics, but that's because God has a plan for us. He wants us to be happy and healthy. He wants us to be smart and honest.  He wants us to succeed and find happiness in this life and in the next. That's what these are all about. They have made me so happy.

Personal Note
After having re-read this pamphlet (is it still called that when it's online?), I have decided to re-commit myself to these values.

With regards to entertainment, I feel that I am good at watching clean, wholesome shows. However, I realize that because I am an adult and married, I sometimes let less wholesome shows into my life under the false justification that "I'm married and grown up now.Therefore I can watch slightly inappropriate things because they are funny."  But I think that if I would not watch it with my parents or with my teenage sister, I should not be watching it.

Language.  I don't swear. It's never been a bad habit of mine.  Formerly, I have defined inappropriate language as swearing or taking dirty. Now I do not define it so narrowly. I think inappropriate language is speaking badly about people, gossiping, putting people down, criticizing others, and such.  There is a beautiful scripture that invites us to speak with the 'tongue of angels'.  I want to do this. I would love to have everything I say be kind and uplifting.  I have a ways to go yet, but I think today is an excellent time for me to start. :)

Sabbath Day Observance- 'Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy." Exodus 20:8.  God made Sunday to be a holy day. It is not a day for play or shopping or self. It is also not a day for nothing. Yes, it is a day for rest. Sleeping on Sunday is great, but doing nothing is a waste of the sabbath day and doesn't keep it holy.  I am committing now to do more on the sabbath to make it holy. I want to use it as a day to read scriptures, do service, strengthen family relationships, write letters to missionaries and family members, write in my journal, etc.

Those are the three standards that I have decided to improve on.  I think that as I work on these, I will be even happier.  I challenge you (wait, is someone reading this? ha, ha) to find things in your life that you feel you should improve on. They certainly don't have to be the above values, but there is strength in setting goals and reaching them.

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