Experiment upon the word

She's bright and has an upbeat, fun-to-be-around personality. She's talented. And she finds real joy in working with others - especially children. At 15, she has a lot going for her.

She's a young woman in the Church, perhaps typical of the thousands of young women who are striving to stay on the gospel path.But they occasionally doubt themselves. They think they're not as cute as the other girls in school and, when they struggle with correct verb usage or logarithms, they doubt their intelligence.

Their spiritual development usually progresses nicely. They are being taught the gospel, and, probably have good feelings about the Church. Though they might not fully realize it, they're taking Alma's advice to "experiment upon [the] word and exercise a particle of faith." They really do have a "desire to believe." (See Alma 32:27.)

But, at times - like when the 5 a.m. alarm rings to awaken them for early-morning seminary, or when they see friends already dating - Church activity can seem a little restrictive.

For most, in their hearts, they believe the gospel is true. They know their parents' direction and advice is good. They embrace the values of the Church.

But, like all of us, young people need loving help and support. Parents often need, and always appreciate, a positive third-party influence for their sons and daughters.

No organization provides a better opportunity for that positive influence on teenage girls than the Church's Young Women.

On Nov. 28, 1994, the Young Women organization celebrates its 125th anniversary.

One year from now - Nov. 18, 1995 - the Young Women will culminate a year-long and continuing emphasis on experimenting on the word of God (see Alma 32) and on studying the scriptures.

Young Women advisers play a key role in that positive influence - perhaps one who remembers what it's like to be 15 years old and, with the maturity of the years, understands what young women need.

A righteous and loving adviser will help her Young Women come unto Christ - and to feel good about themselves in so doing.

A righteous adviser will love these Young Women, collectively and individually. She'll help them focus on their strengths while working to overcome their weaknesses. As the adviser builds and strengthens the young women, they will feel they're loved just for being themselves.

A righteous adviser will help the young women understand that Church membership isn't restrictive and, in fact, obedience actually makes one free. The young women will come to understand that much of what they see in magazines or on television - propaganda about how teenage young women should look, feel and act - is, essentially, not realistic or true.

A righteous adviser will teach by example. She'll use the 46th Section of the Doctrine and Covenants to teach the young women that talents are a gift from Heavenly Father and that talents rightfully vary from person to person. The adviser will point out that there's nothing to be gained from comparing oneself to someone else and, in fact, the Lord gave us these varied talents so all could be benefited and blessed.

Perhaps the young women, while perusing the New Testament in their rooms one evening, will happen across the Savior's parable of the talents (see Matt. 25:15-30) and, because the adviser has opened a spiritual door, they'll think seriously about developing, and not burying, their talents.

The young women will come to realize that being a young woman of truth, of promise and of faith is not just something that's written in their Personal Progress books, but is a process that leads to joy and happiness here and hereafter. Not coincidently, they will learn that the building blocks of that process are faith, understanding one's divine nature and individual worth, using truth and knowledge to choose to do good and be accountable for one's actions, and integrity. They'll learn that the Young Women theme has real-life application.

All this can happen because a righteous adviser teaches in a kind, loving, non-preaching, non-threatening way.

In short, the adviser teaches Christ-centered doctrine in the way Christ would have it taught.

And the young women respond.

That response means that, being firmly grounded in gospel principles, they are accurately headed along the straight and narrow path to righteousness and joy.

Ten or 20 years from now, the young women hopefully will come to realize what a righteous adviser is doing for them now - and, hopefully, they'll do the same for another struggling 15-year-old child of God.

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