In my church none of the teachers or clergy get paid for their time or expertise. To be honest, none of us really have expertise and very few of us have any time to speak of. We just all pitch in and do our share. The bishop (also unpaid) prays for inspiration and then issues specific jobs or “callings” to the members of the congregation. He gets his calling to be bishop from someone higher up who gets his calling from someone even higher up, all the way up to the apostles and prophets who do get paid something because they work for the church 24/7 and their families need to eat and buy Mormon Tabernacle Choir CDs and Jell-O crystals and whatever else prophets’ families spend money on.

This is a long lead-in to tell you that I’ve been serving as the Sunday teacher to some 9-year-olds for a while but was recently asked to be an advisor/teacher to a group of 14 and 15-year-old girls. I was giddy with glee to receive this calling for several reasons.

1. I can scout out all the best babysitters in our congregation.

2. I love this age group with all the drama and angst and life-changing decisions they’re facing. They’re really down to the hard work of deciding who they are and what they choose in the next few years will have a huge impact on how their lives go. I’m so excited to be a part of that transitional period.

3. They’re a ton of fun to hang out with and I fear I have more in common with them than I maybe should… at my age.

4. I think the very best thing about teaching them is that I really need to stay on my toes and work hard to make sure my life is in order so that I can be a good example to them. I don’t want them to say, “Kathryn’s a lazy skuz ball so I guess it’s okay if I am too.”

I’ve really been examining my life lately and each time (twice so far — woo-hoo bow in awe of my extensive experience) that I prepare a lesson for these girls I feel the need to pray so hard and think so long about what I can say to them to help them choose what they need to choose to be happy.

Today we talked about having an eternal perspective, which really just means thinking about our actions in terms of the big picture, life before we came to earth and life after we die. What will be the long-term consequences of what we choose today?

I told the girls that sometimes I struggle just to have a 5-minute perspective. I frequently don’t consider what consequences my actions will have in the extreme short term. I just want to do what I want to do and I want to do it now. So I suggested that they look at various aspects of their lives and try to broaden their perspectives just a bit. Maybe broaden the way they think about their relationships with their parents to a 5 year perspective. “How will the way I treat my mom today affect my life and her life 5 years from now?”

I want to work on having a year-long perspective with raising my kids. How will my actions or inactions (because I’m so flippin’ tired that I’m running on auto-pilot as a mother) affect how they feel about themselves and who they become a year from now… then stretch to 10 years from now… then think about eternity.

It’s really amazing to me how tunnel-visioned I can become living from one day to the next, getting out of bed and shlumping around the house all day until it’s bedtime and then repeating the cycle without stopping to think about what I’m doing and why.

So I’m hoping to get better at remembering to think about 4 questions:

1. Who am I right now? A daughter of God, a woman who says she’s a writer but rarely finishes a writing project she starts, a mother who adores her children but not enough to get up early and be ready to help them get a good start to their days, a great cookie baker and eater, etc.

2. Who do I want to become? A morning person, a spiritually full and peaceful woman, someone who serves others naturally without hesitation, a published author with steady work, the leader of a dance-battle-winning hip hop dance crew made up of frumpy moms, someone who’s not asked repeatedly if she’s pregnant when she’s not, etc.

3. Who does my Heavenly Father know I can become?

4. What am I doing right now to achieve these goals or sabotage them?

It’s a lot. A lot to think about. When I prepare lessons for these girls, I get all passionate and focused and I just want to plead with them to be a little better and do a little more with their lives. In the end I think I was given this calling so I could learn to be more passionate and focused in my own life, so I could find the motivation I need to be a little better and do a little more myself.

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33 Responses to Perspective

  1. Ali says:

    I just got called to Achievement Days this afternoon. I taught the group you are talking about for more than a year, and can I say that when I told them that Keunu Reeves was a hottie in our day, they almost yacked and told me Orlando Bloom was the cat’s meow now. Lesson learned, catch up on my TMZ before teaching YW, otherwise my “real world” analysis will never fly.

  2. Janssen says:

    What a lovely post. You can come teach in my ward 🙂

  3. As a mother of a 14yo Mia Maid (oh how, oh HOW, did that happen!?), I can tell you: your work at church is invaluable. Thanks!

  4. All Adither says:

    Who are you calling frumpy?

  5. Mir says:

    Those girls are lucky to have you. 🙂

    I hope your back is all better!

  6. Beth says:

    A lot of good thoughts. I have these moments quite often of late. Only I call it my existential meltdown! 🙂 15 is a hard age….the young girls in your class are lucky to have you as their guide. I’m sure you will make them laugh and feel challenged and feel special!!

  7. Becky says:

    It’s so hard to look at the big picture sometimes.
    I’m sure the girls you teach will be able to see how passionate you are about the topics & that will make you a great teacher!
    🙂 becky

  8. Janel says:

    I don’t think the “Village” that you wrote about in your last post would have jumped to your aid so quickly if you hadn’t already been “someone who serves others naturally without hesitation.” Great goals idea. I’m inspired.

  9. My husband and I have worked with all ages (from six months to college students) at our church. The teens ARE an especially fun and important age to work with. It’s amazing to me when teens really have the desire to work on their relationship with God. I was SO not ready to do so when I was a teen!

  10. Love the candid, soul-searching posts like this.

    I’m pretty sure the reason we’re supposed to go to church every week is simply so we can remember what it is we feel so strongly about and then forget in the midst of life. (duh).

  11. AJ says:

    Excellent and inspiring post!

    (And can I be part of the hip-hop dance team? I am a frumpy mom, after all…)

  12. Shalee says:

    Forget the girls… you can teach ME a thing or 20!

  13. April says:

    Great post Kathryn. I too have trouble getting up early to get my kids off to a right start. It’s so hard to go to bed early when you finally have time to be free and each waht you want, watch what you want, and just be still in the quiet. It’s a hard one. Let me know if you figure it out. I was just called to Activities Committee and haven’t a clue what I’m supposed to be learning. Mostly I’m learning how to be frustrated with my husband as we are co-chairs. I’m sure I’ll learn something else, something better in the end. i just need to have some perspective. Thanks for reminding me.

  14. Awesome Mom says:

    I had a blast when I had that calling. It was also tough because like you I felt the full weight of my responsibility. Good luck! I am sure that you are a great example for them.

  15. michal says:

    i hope you get your dream of being the leader of a hip hop dancing crew of frumpy moms. sounds like a great fantasy!
    i’m with you on all the others, but hip hop’s never really been my thang.

  16. Beth says:

    Good post! Perspective really … hmm. I was gonna say “puts things in perspective,” but that’s redundant, isn’t it??

    I have been in Young Women the past year and have enjoyed the lessons a lot, too.

  17. Stephanie says:

    Yeah… I need to do better at this too….

  18. Rachel J. says:

    I think a sign of maturity and growth is becoming more aware of your surroundings, thus thinking outside of yourself and concerning yourself more with the needs and feeling of others; taking all things into account to make the best choices for ALL LIFE.
    Way to grow…and more importantly…SHARE
    This is life!

    Love the “frump-hop” idea. Post the details and I will be there in my socks n’ flip flops fully equipped wit some Run DMC.


  19. I’m not a “Young Woman” anymore (although, thankfully, most would still call me a young woman) but I would be glad to have you as a teacher! I’m the Girls Camp Leader in my ward and it really is a special assignment to be with that age of girls. They really are refreshing and so close to the spirit! Thanks for posting those questions, I need that reminder, too!

  20. Eve says:

    1 down, 29 more to go, but who’s counting?

  21. Katherine says:

    Isn’t it amazing how much we learn from the kids we’re supposed to be teaching? ‘course I don’t what it says about me since I’m usually with the preschool / toddler crew . . . 🙂

  22. I’m 1st counselor in our YW pres, over the Mia Maids. I taught this lesson yesterday, too, though your version seems much better. It’s a daunting task, working with the YW. I’m a dismal failure!

  23. zdoodlebub says:

    You are awesome. Thanks for putting that out there, the ways you wish to improve.

    I, too, am making it a summer goal to be up early…thanks for reminding me that I’m not the only one who struggles with that, among other things.

  24. Honey Mommy says:

    Thanks for your thoughts Kathryn.

    I have always wanted to work with the Young Women in my ward. So far it is a calling that I have never had. Right now I don’t have a calling, since they released me from nursery right before I gave birth to my second son three months ago.

    I think that a new calling is probably coming my way soon. Hopefully it will be a good one that will help me stretch and grow too. Sometimes I get too lazy and don’t work on setting goals and achieving them.

  25. Cheetah says:

    It’s just what I needed to hear. Summer here is and I”m going to do everthing I put off:-)
    I had the same experience when I taught the Laurels. It’s so powerful.

  26. Carolee says:

    Your young women are so lucky to have you as a teacher and advisor! I know whenever I worked with the young women, I learned so much more about myself than I ever taught them. For instance — I learned so much from you as a teenager — and I continue to learn from you and be inspired by you through your blog. You are an amazing woman!

  27. May I please be a member of your hip hop dance crew?

  28. dayna says:

    yup, yep, and yup…i know your passion and the introspection that comes with that calling. thanks for the reminder to keep a broader perspective and remember who i really am!

  29. Marian says:

    Those are great questions. The concrete nature of 1 year, 5 years, etc really helps.

    Can I join your dance crew?

  30. KYouell says:

    Thanks for taking the time to share this. As one of your non-LDS readers I want you to know that I love these posts. I can still learn about myself too, member or not. Thanks for helping my introspection.

  31. Carrie says:

    Hey, I need in on this whole dance crew thingy too.

    Also, I loved this.

  32. Isabel says:

    Wait…you lost me at the part where you said you liked that angst ridden years.

    You’ll be a great YW teacher. YAHOO for a new calling.

    (Remind me, please, why I”m in charge of the Primary kids?)

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