Well, here we are again, it is the weekend of LDS 189th bi-annual General Conference. May the odds be ever in your favor…
The current Mormon prophet Russell M. Nelson has made a lot of changes already during his time as the Mormon leader. One of those changes is instead of having a priesthood meeting only for the young men in the church, on the Saturday evening before conference, they now switch off between having a meeting for the young men and young women. This conference, was the young women’s turn. They announced new curriculum for the young women to follow.
When I was growing up, the LDS young women followed the personal progress program. There was a theme and motto we would memorize and repeat every Sunday at the beginning of our young women’s meeting.
We are daughters of our Heavenly Father who loves us, and we love Him. We will stand as witness of God at all times and in all things and in all places as we strive to live the young women values, which are faith, divine, nature, individual worth, knowledge choice and accountability, good works and integrity *(virtue).
We believed 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.
*added in 2009
With the changes of the curriculum, they changed the motto, it now reads:
I am a beloved daughter of heavenly parents with a divine nature and eternal destiny. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I strive to become more like Him. I seek and act upon personal revelation and minister to others in His holy name.
I will stand as a witness of God at all times and in all things, and in all places. As I strive to qualify for exaltation, I cherish the gift of repentance and seek to improve each day. With faith, I will strengthen my home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, and receive the ordinances and blessings of the holy temple.
The thing that stood out to me most was the change in strive to live by the young women values and strive to qualify for exaltation. One thing I have always struggled with in regards to the Mormon belief system is having to be “good enough”. I have had many people tell me that Mormonism isn’t a works-based faith. When I have to “qualify” for something that means I really have to work to try to achieve it and I have to be good enough to make it.
Dictionary.com defines qualify as:
verb (used with object), qual·i·fied, qual·i·fy·ing.
to provide with proper or necessary skills, knowledge, credentials, etc.; make competent: to qualify oneself for a job.
verb (used without object), qual·i·fied, qual·i·fy·ing.
to be fitted or competent for something.
to get authority, license, power, etc., as by fulfilling required conditions, taking an oath, etc.
Dictionary.com defines live as:
to practice, represent, or exhibit in one’s life: to live one’s philosophy.
Dictionary.com defines strive as:
verb (used without object), strove or strived, striv·en [striv-uh n] or strived, striv·ing.
to exert oneself vigorously; try hard: He strove to make himself understood.
to make strenuous efforts toward any goal: to strive for success.
to contend in opposition, battle, or any conflict; compete.
In my mind there is a big difference between “to practice, represent or exhibit in one’s life” and “to provide with proper or necessary skills, knowledge, credentials, or be competent for”.
For me this post brings up so many reminders of my past. Thoughts and feelings of not being enough. Shame. Guilt. Self-hate, and doubt. I can’t imagine how I would have felt as an adolescent hearing those words- “Strive to Qualify for Exaltation”. Wow, the weight of the world on your shoulders at 12! And today’s world is so much more difficult for adolescents then I could have ever imagined.
If you know my story, you know I struggled my whole life with depression and feelings of worthlessness. I knew I would never be good enough. I knew I could never be perfect. I knew I could never do enough to make it to Heaven. When I was in 5th grade I had a “personal revelation”. That was the first time it really hit me what Christ had done on the cross for me. I knew my sins. I knew the things I had done wrong. My “personal revelation” told me that I could never do enough to make up for the things I had already done wrong in my life. But in my Mormon belief system, I knew even that thought was a sin.
People begin healing the moment they feel heard. I cried out to God and a faithful Christian, with a personal connection to God reached out to me in faith. It was the first time I felt heard, and the first time I heard that God loved me regardless of anything I had done.
My heart goes out to the youth in the LDS church today. Especially the young women who are struggling to fit into a cookie cutter mold when that isn’t who God created them to be. I know no matter how much I “strive to qualify for exaltation” or try and be good enough for Heaven, I am only setting myself up for failure. I decided to rewrite the motto of what I try to live by.
I am a beloved child of a Heavenly Father who created me just as I am and has a purpose for my life. As a disciple of Jesus Christ, I strive to follow His example. I attempt to pursue a personal relationship with God and will express my love for Him by showing His love to others. I will aim to place my faith in God at all times and in all things, and in all places, as I strive to live a life as a disciple of Christ, knowing I am a sinner and I will fail. I am saved only by grace through His sacrifice and death on the cross for my sins. I cherish the gift of the Cross and seek to improve each day. By faith, I will grow in my trust and relationship with God, following Christ and living by His word.
I’m just a Small-Town-Girl…saved by grace in a works-based world.