The 'rising generation'
It's easy. Send a link to the story you were just reading to a friend. Just fill out the form on this page and we'll send it along.
The past several months have been amazing as I have visited Young Women camps, youth conferences, pioneer treks and devotionals. What I have observed, through these experiences, needs to be mentioned. The rising generation of young women are doing just that — they are rising! They are arising in their faith and testimony and in their knowledge of the Book of Mormon and the Savior. Many young women I have met during recent months have read the Book of Mormon several times. They tell me that their faith in the Savior has been deepened and that they see the connection between their lives and the lives of people in the Book of Mormon. They are quick to liken the battles in the Book of Mormon to the battles that they find themselves fighting. In a world where their standards are being mocked and challenged on an almost daily basis through entertainment and media, they are standing strong. It is thrilling to see these young women gathered together, sharing wholesome fun, canoeing on mountain lakes or hiking on pristine trails. They shine!
These kinds of entertainment and activities help young women stay focused and actively engaged in the joy of living the gospel. Today's Latter-day Saint young women know how to set goals, discipline themselves to accomplish their goals and then set more. Many of them are attending the temple regularly, with family names in hand, ready to perform baptisms in behalf of their ancestors. They are active participants in the gospel. And the word "active" needs to be underscored.
In a time when the powerful influence of technology and media can be used for good or ill, I am seeing young women use these tools to further the Lord's work on the earth and to bless their families. Even young women who do not have family support seem to know innately that they are the link, in the generations of their family, to the restored gospel of Jesus Christ.
Every time I speak at a devotional or Young Women gathering, I come away with little notes passed during a handshake moment. Now remember, this is the "technological generation" who use media to communicate with text, Twitter and Instagram, and I am getting hard copies of their feelings and desires in the form of notes scribbled on cards, ledger paper and the backs of programs!
Here is a little sampling of their expressions of faith: "Tonight I felt a beautiful spirit as we gathered together. There is nothing like being in person and looking into eyes to increase my own testimony." Another wrote: "I am so excited to share the spiritual experience I had when I went to the temple this morning with my mother. I know it will strengthen our relationship as I share my feelings with her." And yet another — "I appreciate you coming to talk to me. I think of you and my other leaders as my mothers. I do this because I am the only member of the Church in my family. I did this on my own. Please pray for me that I can stay strong in the Church on my own so I can help my mother and family join the Church someday."
Yes, these young women are incredible! They are rising. And they will help all with whom they associate rise as well. They live the standards, they have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and their eyes really do shine with the light of the Spirit.
In a very media-saturated world, they make the effort to come to a devotional, to stay afterward and shake hands, to visit and mingle, and to feel the Spirit — in person! And although media and entertainment have become a part of their everyday lives, I have observed that it is still the personal touch they seek. They want to connect — but first and foremost they want to connect personally — one-on-one. They seem hungry for spiritual experiences. And when I ask them what we can do as their parents and leaders to help them stay strong in living the gospel, their response is always the same — "Please can we have more activities where we gather in person with lots of other youth who share our same standards." They are not seeking virtual entertainment, they want the real thing.
In For the Strength of Youth, the section on "Entertainment and Media" cautions youth, parents and leaders to choose wisely when using media. It also cautions youth to turn off a computer, television or mobile device if its use drives away the Spirit. Perhaps, the hunger I am observing stems from our innate human desire to connect personally and not technologically. Parents and leaders would be wise to stay current with media, to set guidelines for its use in their homes and to seek only those things that uplift and invite the Spirit. Wise use of these tools certainly provides a way to connect with our youth and to have righteous influence in their world and in their lives. However, what I am observing is that although media matters to young women, so does the personal touch. We must never lose sight of this fact. Handshakes matter, eye contact matters, smiles matter, one-on-one relationships matter, whispered encouragement matters and spirit-to-spirit communication really does make a difference. I know this!
In a generation that could be ever texting and never coming to a knowledge of the truth, or isolating themselves by using entertainment and media available on their personal computers, I am seeing wise young women who are occupying their time using technology and media to further the work of salvation. I am seeing young women who are learning of the Savior, setting and accomplishing goals, and reaching out in service to others. I am observing that these valiant young women desire to be "active participants" in the gospel of Jesus Christ. Even though entertainment and media can connect us virtually, young women everywhere will make every effort to gather together in activity settings where they can feel the love the Savior has for them. They will draw strength from personal interactions with righteous role models and other youth who are striving to live and exemplify the standards.
Yes, our young women are amazing! They are rising and they are changing the world!