Young Women: New year, new you
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At the beginning of a new year, like many of you, I always make New Year's resolutions. For me, a new year marks a new start and a time to change and to try to become just a little better at some things and a lot better at others. A new year is a new beginning.
It is interesting that in mythology the Roman god Janus, for whom the month of January was named, is most often depicted as having two heads facing opposite directions; one head looks back at the last year while the other looks forward to the new, simultaneously looking into the future and the past. This image of Janus was frequently used to symbolize change and transitions such as the progression of past to future, of one condition to another, and of one vision to another.
And so as we begin our journey into a brand new year, we too may want to pause and look back — to remember all the blessings we have had, and all the things we have experienced that have tried us, tutored and proven us, made us more humble and yet in many ways made us stronger. And then, we may want to look forward into the future and assess what we can change, and what we can do differently.
In some instances, this is almost an intuitive process and the new year is a good place to start for a new beginning. Typically, this is when the diets start. This is the time the jogging shoes come back out of the closet. The new year is the time for cleaning house and even cleansing hearts. There is just something about a new year that denotes a new start and it is exciting. Perhaps like me, you may be asking, "How can I make this year of 2011 a little closer to 'heaven?' "
This year in the Young Women, we will focus on seeking after those things that are "virtuous, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy." We will be doing this because that's what we always do! Also, we will be doing this because the focus of the 2011 Mutual theme is centered on the attributes and standards contained in the 13th Article of Faith.
To support this emphasis, every stake president, every bishop and Young Men and Young Women presidency will receive a special DVD entitled "Strength of Youth Media 2011 — Resources for Youth, Parents, and Leaders." This resource contains an introduction to the 2011 Mutual theme, music that supports this theme, and youth video segments showing how youth all over the world are living the standards and following the direction of prophets, seers and revelators in these challenging latter days.
In this small package, you will get a glimpse of youth all over the world speaking many languages, who are changing their friends, their families, their schools and their communities because they are living what they believe. It contains youth testifying, teaching and sharing ways that they seek after the attributes, values and standards in the 13th Article of Faith. It illustrates youth who "believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men" — youth who are following the example of the Savior.
It is thrilling to watch this DVD from beginning to end. However, it is designed so it can be used in segments as youth and parents desire to focus on specific ways they can learn, teach and live the standards.
"The Strength of Youth Media" can act as a resource for parents, leaders of youth and priesthood leaders to supplement lessons, use in firesides, to facilitate a discussion and inspired learning in Sunday lesson settings; to use at youth conferences and in family home evening lessons. The possibilities are limitless for using this resource along with the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet, to help strengthen the rising generation.
The standards in the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet are standards for youth, for families, and for societies everywhere. They could easily be renamed, "For the Strength of YOU!"
They are the words of prophets, seers and revelators, and they are given to guide and guard us, not to restrict us. They are the habits that will help us all, as members of the Church, be qualified to receive the guidance of the Holy Ghost. As we contemplate a new beginning perhaps we might inventory our personal lives to see how we can more fully live these standards.
In an ever-growing environment of moral pollution and media-saturated messages calling to our society to discard and lower the standards upon which all civilized societies and successful nations are established, the voice of prophets seers and revelators to the youth is to stand as a witness, to embrace the standards that will make all people free from disease, abuse, emotional damage, and free to be growing and developing and becoming a righteous influence in the world.
And as the world in which we live sees the difference in the lives of our youth, of our families and in our homes, and in the lives each of us personally live, I believe that more and more will come to embrace the gospel and inquire after these standards.
President Boyd K. Packer, President of the Quroum of the Twelve, has said, "Society is on a course that has caused the destruction of civilizations and is now ripening in iniquity. Civilization itself is at stake. You, our wonderful youth, are an example to untold millions of good people worldwide. I think of the joy and happiness that await you in this life and the work you are to do, and I cannot be discouraged" ("The Standard of Truth Has Been Erected," October 2003 general conference address).
As a general Young Women presidency, we agree. We see a bright new year ahead, filled with young women all over the world who are making a difference. We see a world filled with young women who radiate the Spirit, who live the standards, who are worthy to go to the temple and who are virtuous, lovely and praiseworthy.
We look back at the past year with deep gratitude and look forward with great excitement to the future.