Silence. Oh, so much silence. It’s awkward and puzzling. Why is it so quiet in this sacrament meeting? Then it hits you: no babies. Toto, we aren’t in the home ward anymore.
Many of you young LDS 18-year-olds feel a little apprehensive about leaving the cushy pews of your beloved home ward and embarking into the unknown world of young single adult wards. With the 2014-2015 school year drawing to a close, there are many of you in the church who will soon have to face this step. Here are five tips to make the transition smoother.
1. Young single adult wards are ordained of God.
YSA wards were created for the edifying of young single saints. If you fit in that category, the Lord has provided a place just for you! There are life-altering friendships to be made and amazingly fun experiences to have, and most of all, we need you. YSA wards are living, breathing things and, unlike most home wards, they are constantly changing. We need the youth coming in to be engaged and to fearlessly dive into the ward to keep the blood flowing. The Lord always has need of willing men and women who will put the shoulder to the wheel and become anxiously engaged in the great cause of YSA wards.
2. Fear not the marriage counsel, oh be ye not dismayed.
News Flash: Singles wards are designed to get young adults married. It’s kind of the whole point. You may have met some young singles who are annoyed by the constant counsel from the pulpit about the importance of marriage and starting a family, and let’s be honest: dating can be rough, and the constant reminder of your singleness can be a little hard to swallow. But be ye not dismayed! The reason being single feels so wrong is because it is wrong. God never intended for us to be alone and wants to provide us with the optimal opportunity to meet people with similar interests and values so we can each create our own eternal families. Remember, timing is everything. If you don’t feel like you are ready to be married, the answer isn’t avoiding YSA activities. The answer is simply: don’t get married. You have full control of your marital status, so don’t be afraid to date lots and lots of fun, interesting people. If one of them just so happens to be the cheese to your macaroni, go with it and live happily ever after.
3. Get Active, Stay Active
In life, participation equals fulfillment. The same can be said of YSA wards. Lift where you stand! Grow where you’re planted! Go to gospel doctrine class every week and you could even chime in with a comment. Go to home evening, take a break from homework, and rock those wholesome recreational activities with your peeps. Activities, home/visiting teaching, firesides, devotionals, there are all sorts of ways to get involved! Be everywhere. Be where the party is and people are going to notice (especially members of the opposite sex). An active person is an interesting person, and staying involved does wonders for your testimony. If you want to stay active in the church, you need to be active in your ward.
4. Bring a Friend
A good ally is worth his/her weight in gold. Be it a roommate, BFF, significant other, or maybe a non-member friend, don’t try to face the YSA ward alone. Your sojourn through the YSA world can sometimes be a rocky one, and you need someone to stick with you through thick and thin. You also need to be that support for others who are new to the ward. Let them know you can relate to their deer-in-the-headlights gaze you saw as they walked in for the first time, and show them you’ve been there. Fellowshipping is vital in our church, and you won’t believe how much you’ll love to do it.
5. Always have a calling. We need you!
Still trying to dodge bishops’ looks? Well, it’s time to look your destiny in the eye. One of the coolest aspects of a YSA ward is your being able to hold a variety of different callings usually reserved for the grown-ups. It was pretty daunting for me fresh out of high school to be called as the Relief Society secretary after only being in the ward for two weeks. But it was the most rewarding calling I had ever had. President Gordon B. Hinckley once said, “There is no calling in this church which is of little or no consequence. All of us, in our pursuit of duty, touches the lives of others.” Get touching some lives, people! And become an active member of the body of Christ (1 Cor. 12:25-27).
Like I said, we need you. We need your talents, your testimony, and your time. The YSA ward can seem daunting but you have so much to gain and everything to loose! With the right attitude, you can turn this transition into one of the most rewarding opportunities of your life. That is what the transition to my young single adult ward became for me. I know that that is exactly where the Lord wants me to be and I promised to make the most of it. I invite all of you to do the same, commit now to grab YSA life by the horns and become the disciple the Lord wants you to be.