As I listened to my ward’s seminary graduates speak in sacrament meeting a couple of weeks ago, I found my throat swollen with emotion and an unexpected love fill my heart for all the sudden girl/women who bore testimony boldly (or nonchalantly or emotionally or monotone) and who thanked their parents and teachers with an intensity so sweet and earnest. They were my old babysitters, my friends’ children, neighborhood girls who once traipsed around in cut-off jeans and now zoom by me in their cars with cute smiles under big sunglasses, waving as the day whisks them away.
I wonder what is in store for them on those occasions when blown out hair and glossy lips are necessary; but even more, I wonder what is in store for them now—now that they are graduates and truly on the cusp of adulthood and change and adventure.
What will happen to these lovely girls? The world is their oyster, their destinations ripe for the picking. Will they head south to school, will they travel the globe, will they serve missions? Will they be early brides and early mothers? Will they learn a trade or have a career? Will they live with their parents, or will they move out? But most importantly, will they keep going with those testimonies? And will those testimonies grow to more than a gratitude for parents, and a willingness to look at their mothers’ eyes, and then beyond, when they attempt to say what they believe? Or will they lose those budding testimonies—or will they flounder, or will they stay the same?
I worry about this. I worry about that transition to womanhood—the proverbial transition from Young Women to Relief Society. When I hear about how many women my age who dislike Relief Society, then I worry about how the entire enriching experience of it—the sisterhood and the shared experience and the strengthening testimony of those further along the journey—might seem to the really young women highfalutin and irrelevant. (Because if those Gospel truths don’t appeal to them, then certainly the emphasis on emergency preparedness stuff won’t either—that has pure parenthood/responsibility written all over it.) Or I wonder if there are just certain girls who come primed for Relief Society with a willingness to learn and serve, and others who will disdain it just ‘cause.
What has been your experience in this area? What are the things you have done to help the girls in your life transition into service in the Relief Society—or even, into enjoyment in the Relief Society—and into adulthood as well? Because as women, we stand few paces ahead, waiting for our younger counterparts, poised to learn from them and love them, and hopefully pass a little something back in return. I want to welcome these sweet girls with open arms, and I am willing, but is it really that simple? What happens next?