For those of you unfamiliar, in the Church of Jesus Christ of Later-day Saints, no one is a "professional". The members work in all of the positions needed to run the local congregation, no one gets paid. We are expected to donate our time, and talents to the church, and serve in a position, that we believe the Lord would have us work in.
I've been in the Young Women's presidency for the last 8 months. It has been a very interesting experience for me. My own Young Womenhood was not something I look back on fondly. Girls, especially mean girls, can be really awful. And to be honest, I have spent the last ten years trying to forget most of what happened in those years. Luckily, the group of girls I've been working with don't have that problem. They are small in numbers, but really genuinely trying, and no one seems to be excluded (on purpose).
Teaching lessons was challenging because I had a wide range of understanding to teach to. The girls were timid about answering questions, either not wanting to be wrong, or not wanting to answer every question. Trying to get them to plan their activities was tedious. Mutual activities are a lot of work, and especially for those months were Justin was gone and I had to rely on the kindness of my parents to watch the boys for me, a challenge to young children missing mommy at bedtime.
So, while I am relieved that I am moving and will be released from this calling, I have learned a lot.
I've learned that I like being in charge rather than trying to get other people to be in charge. For example, in the primary presidency if there was an activity to plan we could just plan it. But with the young women, our mission was to teach them how to be leaders, and we were supposed to push them to plan their own activities.
I've learned that even though adults will tell you they remember what it is like to be young, most of them really don't. Or, they aren't good at converting their own experiences into what the youth of today are doing. Now, I'm not that much older than these girls. I remember when most of them were born, and I babysat some of them, and I even had challenges relating to them. These girls really do need people to actually remember what it is like to be their age, and to see what they see, and have to deal with what they deal with. Because while it's all well and good to talk about keeping your house clean and learning how to cook, they are facing some real spiritually threatening situations, that I think we faced when we were young as well. (I didn't find this a problem with our leaders, but more with the manual.)
I've learned that Personal Progress is hard. When I did mine it was pretty easy. Maybe that is because I expect more out of myself these days, but what these girls need to do requires a lot of self discipline, thought, and just plan work.
I've learned that it is just better to tell it like it is, then try and gloss over stuff, or use old-people euphemisms instead of words they understand. For example, "necking and petting" no one knows what that is.
I've learned that I really don't like being called Sis. Cook. Maybe it's a generational thing, but I really don't find "sister last-name-that-I've-only-had-for-the-last-seven-years" to be more respectful than "Brecken."
I've learned that the Lord loves these girls. He is constantly worried about them. He wants them to be courageous. He wants them to be confident. I think too often, in the church, we focus on what we can control and see. For example, flip flops on Sunday. I learned that if we focus on self respect, and understanding self worth those issues would either be minuscule or resolve themselves. He wants them to love Him. He wants them to understand His love for them. He wants them to not be afraid of the atonement, and the blessings that come when you do what you can and repent when you mess up.
My mom always wants me to record my callings, so for personal history sake:
- Young Women's 1st Councilor (GR)
- Marriage and Family Relations Sunday School Teacher (with Justin) (MSH)
- Primary 2nd Councilor (under two different presidents) (MSH)
- Nursery Worker (Morningside Heights)
- Relief Society Teacher (Provo 1)
- Primary Pianist (W)
- Ward Choir Director (Wymount)
- Relief Society Music Director (B1)
- Ward Chorister (Bonneville 1)
- Relief Society President (BYU 55)
- Relief Society Room Decorator (BYU 55)
- Compassionate Service Leader (BYU 55)
- I don't remember anything but visiting teacher for my first BYU ward.
- Laurel President, Stake Seminary President, Stake Youth Co-Chair, Miamaid councilor, Branch Chorister, and Choir Director Beehive President, (Grand Rapids)