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5 way to make the most out of the YSA ward experience

By Liz Stitt

For the Deseret News

Published: Saturday, April 26 2014 10:28 p.m. MDT

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Editor's note: A version of the following article was first published on the author's blog, lizstitt.blogspot.com.

Whether or not one leaves with a ring on the finger, a Mormon young single adult ward is definitely not eternal — thankfully. Even if someone stays in the same place and never moves, come 31 years of age, he or she is outta there. Although it's a temporary period, it can be, and should be, a time for growth.

When I moved into my current YSA ward of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints several years ago, the bishop said to jump in with both feet, hit the ground running and be involved in the ward. As I have followed that counsel, the following five things are what I have learned that have made my YSA ward experience more fun, bearable and meaningful.

1. Know why God wants you where he wants you

In the "Lectures on Faith, Lecture Third," Joseph Smith taught that one of the things necessary for rational and intelligent beings to exercise faith in God is to have an "actual knowledge that the course of life which he is pursuing is according to his will."

Let me tell you, I understand the struggle between knowing God's will and pursuing God's will. Sometimes I think, "Wait a second. So you want me to be here hanging out with a bunch of 20-somethings playing goofball instead of raising children? Really? How can that even be true?"

So as I studied this concept several years ago, I decided that I needed to know for sure that what I was doing and where I was going and how I was living my life were actually in accordance with God's will.

I started to pray regularly, seeking confirmation. This doesn't mean that there is only one exact and unchangeable "right" path in life. Many times, I have come to a crossroads in decision-making and felt that either way would lead me down a good path. So then I pray for inspiration to help me move forward in faith.

As I am on that path, if I feel lost or unsure whether I'm still really doing something good with my life, I seek that confirmation again. And then I work to recognize the answer. I have not received the answer when I've been on my knees, but when I have been engaged in his work.

The Lord's plan for me has been manifest in so many ways. I have found opportunities to share the gospel that were available to me because I was single and in a similar situation to those I've talked to.

2. Seek out people to serve

Sometimes it is difficult to want to go to ward activities. There are way more activities going on than there is even time to go to them. YSA wards have an average of eleventy-hundred activities per week (rough calculation) and that's not even counting the different activities and parties people post on the ward and stake Facebook pages.

As an aging YSA, sometimes I have gone to family home evening and thought, "Oh nice, here I am, 28 years old, playing charades in the church gym when my married friends are at home doing FHE with their kids actually helping 'bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man'."

But I finally stopped thinking of activities and FHE and anything, really, as being about me. I don't go to FHE just because I enjoy water kickball. Yes, I do enjoy having fun and being with others, but as a YSA, I feel like I'm in a unique position to reach out to others.

So reach out. For every activity you go to, invite someone else to come along.

3. Be anxiously engaged and use this time to prepare

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