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

Don't be so anxious to get engaged that you forget to be anxiously engaged. Marriage is definitely something for which we should seek. It is part of God's plan. It is what we want (or should want), but we should be anxiously engaged in all aspects of the gospel as we prepare for that blessed arrangement.

As a young woman, I really wanted to serve a mission. As the time drew closer, I was anxious to know if that was what I should do and how I would know it. I was given the counsel to prepare as if I were going to serve a mission. If I did, I would enter much better prepared. If I did not, it would undoubtedly be a blessing to me anyway. So I volunteered several hours a week at the Missionary Training Center and even served a six-month LDS Church service mission there. I studied "Preach My Gospel." I took a missionary preparation class. I shared the gospel with friends. When the time came, and I knew it was right, I did, indeed, serve a mission. And how grateful I was for that preparation.

I feel the same way about spiritual preparation for any event in life. Whether preparing for a mission, preparing to enter the temple, preparing for marriage or preparing for any life-changing decision, now is the time to prepare.

The YSA ward is such a unique place to prepare because its members have so many others who are making or have recently made those same decisions. Take advantage of the experiences of others of the same age.

A quick note about being anxiously engaged in marriage preparation (even if you don't want to hear it): Be patient in your pursuit, but for heaven's sakes, don't ever give up. Say yes to dates, say yes to set-ups, be open to new ideas (online dating, perhaps?), and don't get discouraged if you're not going on dates. Let your YSA ward be a place for you to make connections and meet people. And keep preparing.

4. Magnify, magnify, magnify

My first calling in my current ward was service co-chairwoman. It is still my calling three-and-a-half years later. In that time, I have had other callings on top of that, always working in non-traditional callings.

You probably didn't know the service committee co-chair calling existed before coming to a YSA ward, nor did you know of the committees for Break the Fast, Mix and Mingle, new members, friendshipping or birthdays. The fact is, there are so many people and so few organizations in a singles ward that we have to work with what we've got.

It would be very easy to only do what I'm assigned. But in a previous calling I had, I was exhorted very strongly to focus on service among the YSAs because that would bring them closer to Jesus Christ and closer to each other. And I firmly believe that.

Choose to magnify your calling. YSAs are in the perfect situation to meet the needs of so many people in so many different ways. As our YSA ward has served alongside the family stake in our area, it has also helped remind me that this isn't an "us" (as singles) and "them" (as families) church. We are all members of the same church, working together to bless others' lives.

5. Rejoice in the success of others

The Apostle Paul counseled the members of the church to be one. To help one another. To love, and be kindly affectioned. To show mercy and cheerfulness. One of his counsels touches me deeply.

"Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep" (Romans 12:15).

I find it easy to weep with those that weep, but sometimes I find it difficult to rejoice with them that rejoice. We all have a twinge of jealousy within us when someone else gets something that we wanted and maybe even feel like we deserved. And it is hard to be the one who is ever faithful, ever true in your YSA ward while others seem to have everything going right in their lives.

Be happy for those who are experiencing success in their lives. Don't be jealous of any success or envious of any accomplishment. Whether friends have advanced in their careers, are getting into a great educational program, or (the hardest one) getting married, rejoice. Show your happiness. Live that happiness.

Happiness comes not only when we are happy with our own lives, but also when we are genuinely happy with others' lives. Because that's when we become one.

Elizabeth Stitt is a Brigham Young University journalism graduate and University of Utah professional MBA graduate. She blogs at lizstitt.blogspot.com

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