If there is one thing universally liked among teenagers it is this: sleep. You sleep often, and even in terribly uncomfortable places in order to ride that Sleep Train into downtown Dreamland, even if only for a few minutes. Amiright? Remember those afternoon naps you refused to take when you were three? Yeah, well, they’re back. As a mother, I’ve learned to accept and embrace this behavior. All in all, I’m actually more productive during the Teenager Nap. However, there is one essential difference between a sleeping toddler, and a sleeping high schooler . . .
Bad things happen when you wake a teenager before dawn.
My teenager-that-sleeps-a-lot is a freshman in high school this year. It’s made me reflect a lot on my own high school beginnings. My daughter seems genuinely excited to see her friends, and excel in her classes each day. Fourteen-year-old me, however, had a slightly different experience from my’s daughter’s. Attending my freshman year of high school was more like entering the seventh circle of hell. My parents had recently divorced, and my convert parents were becoming inactive. My sweet mom worked long hours, so when I expressed a desire to attend seminary before school, she wasn’t able to provide a ride for me. Somehow, though, a ride was arranged (life lesson alert: be careful what you wish for).
In the still dark hours of the early morn’, a boy from another ward pulled up into my driveway in an old minivan that had clearly logged many miles carrying many children. We didn’t speak. When uncomfortable silence gave way to the church building, I’ll never forget my first impression of seminary. Everyone there was either asleep, or barely awake.
The boy-who-would-not-speak, continued to pick me up, and each day I’d take a seat among the seemingly un-dead. After a couple of weeks, I began to question the point of such a strange gathering. Questions posed by the unnerved seminary teacher were often met with moans of halfhearted response, or nothing at all. There was, however, one day a week our teacher brought donuts. This seemed to trigger an almost blood-lust response, as each body slowly crept towards the pink pastry box, inhaling sprinkles and icing before returning to a coma-like state.
After a couple short weeks, I stopped going.
In the many years I’ve lived since those high school adventures, I’ve noticed a difference between me and my peers who graduated from seminary. Many went on missions. They were able to recite Scripture Mastery verses by heart whenever relevant. And I, well, could not. I’ve often wondered how the difficult high school years that followed would have been changed if I had simply kept going to what I had eventually termed, “Cemetery,” each day before the trying school day began. How would the Lord have blessed me?
President Gordon B. Hinckley said, “[Seminary] provides wonderful opportunities to learn the doctrines that will make you happy. It provides wonderful opportunities for socializing with those of your own kind.”
I was one of the only LDS members in my high school. Most others in my ward and stake attended the other high school in our city. I greatly underestimated how much I needed their friendship and influence. It became clear to me, that simply attending seminary was blessing the lives of my peers. Not only that, but despite their zombie-esque appearance, they were listening. Well, most of the time. President Hinckley promised seminary attendance, “Yields . . . spiritual enrichment, moral strength to resist the evil that is all about us, as well as a tremendous increase in gospel scholarship.”
I’ve noticed a drastic difference between my daughter’s, and my own generations. My daughter, Isabelle, thoughtfully relays to me the topics in seminary, and often draws from what she’s learned when making comments during our family scripture study. Clearly, this younger generation has demonstrated great spiritual strength to answer for the world’s increasing moral demise. Your generation seems gifted with the spiritual intelligence to understand that now is the time to prepare. Now is the time to arm yourselves with the powerful blessings afforded you by living the principles of the gospel. At a minimum, daily seminary attendance sends a clear message to the Lord about your willingness to sacrifice your time, and highly valued sleep, in order to learn His gospel. For that, you will be blessed. How much greater will be your blessings when you learn and grow from what is taught to you before the start of each school day?
In closing, I say unto you, arise (at 5am) ye generation of the living! Go with haste to learn the things which thy seminary teacher hath prepared for you! And lastly, be not zombies as ye partake of both donuts, and the good word!