Every Sunday, 12-18 year old girls all over the world stand and read aloud or recite a very beautiful and powerful document. It goes like this…
We are daughters of our Heavenly Father, who loves us, and we love Him. We will "stand as witnesses of God at all times and in all things, and in all places" (Mosiah 18:9) as we strive to live the Young Women values, which are:
Choice and Accountability
We believe as we come to accept and act upon these values, we will be prepared to strengthen home and family, make and keep sacred covenants, receive the ordinances of the temple, and enjoy the blessings of exaltation.
Learning to live the values in this theme is an important part of the Young Women program, and the Personal Progress program is designed to give young women opportunities to learn about and develop these values in their lives.
As stated in the theme, the purpose of living the Young Women values is to prepare young women for the future, including the responsibility to “strengthen home and family.” The phrase “strengthen home and family” was added when I was in the Young Women program. Part of strengthening home and family involves our participation in “the means by which mortal life is created,” (from The Family: A Proclamation to the World) the process of conception, pregnancy, and childbirth. It makes sense that living the Young Women values can be a preparation for the important experiences of being pregnant and giving birth.
I would like to explore how each of the values applies to the great work of childbearing which the Lord gives to His daughters. I will include with each value, the scripture and short explanation of the value from the 2009 edition of the Personal Progress manual.
Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true (Alma 32:21).
Faith is the first principle of the Gospel. We must have faith to believe that our Heavenly Father is real and He cares about our lives. If we have faith, we can ask the Lord for guidance in our lives and trust that the inspiration we receive is from Him, and then we must exercise faith to act upon it.
Often we hear natural birth advocates announcing that birth is safe, with cries of “Trust Birth!” while those in the medical field scoff and say that birth is relatively dangerous with the implication that women should trust doctors. As women of faith, we know in whom we must place our trust. With our faith in the Lord, we can be guided to make the decisions that are best for us and our children, individually.
Be partakers of the divine nature. … Giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity (2 Peter 1:4–7).
I have inherited divine qualities, which I will strive to develop.
Divine Nature is the knowledge that we are created in the image of God (Gen 1:26-27) and that we are His children and have within us divine potential. The processes of pregnancy and birth were divinely designed and are the beautiful, sacred, godly purpose of our creation. “The woman, by her very nature, is also co-creator with God.” (Boyd K. Packer, “For Time and All Eternity,” Ensign, Nov 1993, 21)
As a woman who knows that the female body is divine and who understands that pregnancy and birth are part of its divine purposes, it is easy for me to believe that there can be harm in interfering with the natural birth process when it is going according to Heavenly Father’s design. This leads me to feel that something is not right with a system that relies heavily on medications and surgery to complete a natural process. I also believe that our Father in Heaven has provided us with safe, natural ways to relieve pain during birthing.
Remember the worth of souls is great in the sight of God (D&C 18:10).
I am of infinite worth with my own divine mission, which I will strive to fulfill.
Important to understanding Individual Worth is understanding how it differs from Divine Nature. I like to think of it this way. Divine Nature refers to knowing that God created His children to be like Him, while Individual Worth refers to knowing that he only created one of me. He wants us to know that He loves us each individually, with our own unique attributes and purposes. This is why Individual Worth is included separately from Divine Nature.
Knowing that our Father loves each of us helps us recognize that He cares about our experiences enough to guide us in them. No two birth stories are the same, and yet every baby born is as important to Him as Jesus Christ. I found I had difficulty enjoying my second pregnancy because the experience was not new, and therefore not as exciting as my first pregnancy—until I realized that my new baby was his own unique soul. This realization helped me significantly bond with my child, who I know the Lord loves and created to be an individual with infinite worth. As the Lord told His prophet Jeremiah, “Before I formed thee in the belly, I knew thee.” (Jer. 1:5)
Seek learning, even by study and also by faith (D&C 88:118).
I will continually seek opportunities for learning and growth.
The Lord desires for his daughters to cultivate a spirit of learning in our lives. In a speech to BYU students entitled “The Journey of Lifelong Learning,” Elder Robert D. Hales specifically addressed opportunities for learning in motherhood,
“Motherhood is the ideal opportunity for lifelong learning. A mother’s learning grows as she nurtures the child in his or her development years. They are both learning and maturing together at a remarkable pace. It’s exponential, not linear. Just think of the learning process of a mother throughout the lifetime of her children. . . For example, in the process of rearing her children, a mother studies such topics as child development; nutrition; health care; physiology; psychology; nursing with medical research and care. . . The learning examples could continue endlessly. . . My point is, my dear sisters—as well as for the brethren, who I hope are listening carefully—a mother’s opportunity for lifelong learning and teaching is universal in nature.”
I believe that in something as important as the divinely created process of bringing His children into this world, the Lord is pleased when his daughters’ desire to learn more about it. We are acting on the value of knowledge when we learn about how pregnancy and birth typically unfold according to His plan, as well as the benefits and risks of various tests, procedures, and medications commonly used in pregnancy and birth.
Choice and Accountability
Choose you this day whom ye will serve; … but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).
I will choose good over evil and will accept responsibility for my decisions.
The basic principle of Choice and Accountability is that we have choices, and our choices have consequences. From the account of the war in heaven found in Moses 4:1-4, we know that it is part of God’s plan for us to have choices, and that Satan’s rebellion was based on the belief that he could accomplish universal salvation by taking away agency.
It is common in American maternity care for women to defer all decisions, and therefore all responsibility for the consequences, to their doctors. This is one reason so many doctors are sued. I believe that our Heavenly Father desires for us to make our own decisions, with his guidance. If we learn about all of our options and the possible consequences of various choices we may make, we are in a position where we can be accountable for our choices.
Therefore let your light so shine before this people, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven (3 Nephi 12:16).
I will help others and build the kingdom through righteous service.
Good Works is the value of giving of one’s self for the benefit of others. In a 1942 issue of the Improvement Era, the first presidency referred to motherhood as “the highest, holiest service … assumed by mankind.” The sharing of the body’s resources with our babies during pregnancy and other hardships we may endure in order to give our children life constitute very important form of service. The value of the service we give in creating and sustaining new life with our bodies is not to be understated.
Till I die I will not remove mine integrity from me (Job 27:5).
I will have the moral courage to make my actions consistent with my knowledge of right and wrong.
Integrity is having the courage to act on what you know is the truth. In pregnancy and birth, this applies to holding strong to what the Lord has guided you to do to best take care of yourself and your baby. Sometimes your choices may not be popular, but integrity means holding fast to your principles in the face of any opposition you may receive from anyone who may disagree with your choices, whether they are friends, family, or medical professionals.
Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies (Proverbs 31:10).
I will prepare to enter the temple and remain pure and worthy.
The eighth value, virtue, was added in November 2008. Virtue encompasses chastity in thought and deed, as well as modesty in dress, speech, and action. A virtuous woman knows the true holy purposes of her body, and does not seek to misuse it for ungodly purposes. Striving to be virtuous before marriage will bless a women in her marriage as she uses her divine body for two of its most divine purposes, the binding together of husband and wife and the creation of physical bodies for children to join her family.
I believe it is important for our young women to understand that while being worthy to enter the Lord’s house is a very good reason to be pure, it is not the only reason. Virtue is not a means to an end of a temple marriage, but rather a lifestyle of respect for Heavenly Father’s plan and our place within that plan.