Thirty seconds. That’s it. Thirty seconds, one time a week. For six years. And unless you get called to serve with the Young Women later, you never think about the theme again. Yet I’d be willing to bet that if you grew up with this weekly regimen, or heard it repeated by the girls in your family, it’s still there, deep inside, and if you had it memorized, you could repeat it word for word right now. I’d also be willing to bet that if you did have it memorized growing up, you silently repeated it right now, just to see if you still had it.
Have you ever wondered why? Why did you, or the women you know, do all the repeating? What is so important about those carefully crafted sentences? And why do they matter now?
Take a moment with me and simply ponder three ways in which the theme is as vital to our role now as it is for the young women who continue to repeat it.
It puts the plan in perfect perspective.
The plan of salvation, that is. The Young Women theme first identifies us as daughters (children) of our most loving Father in Heaven and establishes our eternal identity (where we came from). Next, it tells us why we are here—to stand as a witness of that same Father, and to grow and learn some very specific lessons.
The values (faith, divine nature, individual worth, knowledge, choice and accountability, good works, integrity, and virtue) tell us exactly what areas of focus that Lord would have us pursue, not only during our youth, but throughout our entire mortal existence. And they all build on each other. It tells us the purpose of our working to grow in these values and what we need to do to ultimately go back to our heavenly home. It also urges us to prepare for and keep our sacred, eternally binding temple covenants that will ultimately lead us to eternal life.
It is the great equalizer.
There are so many ways to count our differences in this world. Some of us are married while some are single, divorced, or widowed. Some are parents, some are aunts and uncles, grandparents, or friends. Still others are childless, either by choice or circumstance. Some love crafts and projects, others prefer to run marathons.
Oftentimes we get caught up in the differences that divide us, yet the very first line of the theme takes all of that out of the equation. Despite all of our tendencies to compare ourselves with everyone else, we are told that we are ALL children of our Heavenly Father, who loves us. If He loves us, imperfections and all, doesn’t it stand to reason that we should love one another? We may not be exactly the same, but we surely can take the advice of the theme and truly work to love one another just the way we are told that Heavenly Father loves us. We are all precious in His sight. We are all His sons and daughters, and He wants us all to come home.
If we could truly internalize this concept, think of how differently we would treat those around us. It’s not about having more, less, better, or worse talents and goals than the next person. It’s about loving each other and helping each other get one step closer to God.
It provides the perfect filter for our to-do lists.
No doubt about it, we live in a busy world. For every minute of the day there are at least three different items screaming for our attention. It is easy to get caught up in the ‘here and now’ and spend our time focused on the day-to-day lists. For things that have no immediate deadline (making time for the temple, for example), it’s so easy to let them slip to the end of the never-ending list.
It’s very interesting to see what happens when we view our daily lists in light of the theme. Suddenly some items become far less demanding, and others jump right to the top. Re-arranging the list in order of most important as opposed to most immediate can indeed be very hard to do. It’s hard to let some deadlines slip as we fit in a much over-due trip to the temple. It’s hard to put some of our personal comforts or indulgences aside as we opt to put our family first and build the structure of our eternal home.
Yet, if we keep the theme foremost in our minds while constructing the list, we can find a very different sense of peace and accomplishment. President Ezra Taft Benson counseled years ago, “When we put God first, all other things fall into their proper place or drop out of our lives.” (President Benson General Conference April, 1988).
To know that is one thing. To put it into practice is quite another. By using the Young Women theme as a filter, it is much easier to see which items on our lengthy lists could be altered a bit, or even erased all together as we enduringly strive to live the values listed in the Young Women theme.
Though we may have thought we left the logistics of the Young Women Program behind when we--or our friends, sisters, daughters, etc.--entered the realm of adulthood, some parts of the program will always remain with us. Through the constant restatement of the theme within our own minds, we can see the full beauty of the words and find that the counsel is just as, if not more so, applicable to us now--all of us, men and women, young and old.
Read more on this topic in Jen Brewer's book We Are Daughters of Our Heavenly Father: Striving to Live the Young Women Values.
Whether you have a daughter or you're working with the young women at church, this book offers unique insights into why and how the values in the Young Women theme were chosen. A great gift for the women in your life who repeat this theme each week.