I taught this lesson today - Personal Purity Through Self Discipline - Young Womens Lesson 32 - but instead of sticking to the manual completely, I did things a little differently. You see, a few weeks ago I read this article, about how the manuals and lessons in the church are really more directed at men. Women are more emotional and the reasons behind why we succumb to temptation are more complex.
I decided to teach a mostly from the manual, but wanted to end my lesson with psychological reasons we lose our virtue and how we can combat them.
Things such as feeling unloved, depressed, not having control in our lives etc. were all discussed.
I started this part of the lesson by mentioning the article I had read and how we are often taught that guys have a one track mind and it is up to us to help control them, to have the self discipline and while it is good to have that self discipline, the reasons we might give in to temptation are not just about how disciplined we are.
When we feel unloved, have low self esteem or are depressed it can be easy to find that acceptance and love in the attention of a male, because we know guys, especially teenage guys, love to flirt and throw that attention on us women, in the hopes of getting something. And when you are down on yourself it can be really easy to view that attention as love, but once they get what they want, you will soon find out the hard way it is not love.
I discussed how I personally struggled, had depression and was medicated for it when I was a teen etc. I didn't go into full details of anything, just how I felt about myself at the time and how the boys attention made me feel.
Sometimes it is about control in our lives. Often, at your age, you don't have a lot of control in your life. And when we don't have control, or we feel unloved, it can be harder to make the right decisions and practice self discipline. I asked the young women what some of the things they don't have control over are and wrote the answers on the board.
Next, I discussed how even though it might look like we have no control over these things, there are small ways we can make changes to gain more power and control in our lives, so we are living our lives more how we want to and feel more important. We then discussed ways we could do this. A few examples were:
Food: They couldn't always control what they ate or what food was in the house. They could buy little things they like with their pocket money and keep it in their rooms, or share because their siblings might feel the same as them and this could help them feel more control in their lives too. They could sit down with their parents and discuss evening meals, what meals everyone in the family likes and how they could be incorporated in to the family menu plan. They could offer to make the meals too, so not everything is left up to mum.
Media: We can't control what is put out there, but we can choose what to or what not to watch, put parental blocks on our computers and select which books to read.
We discussed how everything has a choice and how there are consequences to those choices. We have the power to choose.
Next I asked what were some things that might help when we are feeling down about ourselves. I said that focusing on the things we do well, or have achieved can help us feel proud about ourselves. We listed some suggestions on the board. One thing I have done before was write a list of things I liked about myself such as things I was good at, my achievements etc. And kept a copy in my wallet so when I was feeling down I could read it and see that I was good and I was worthwhile. I suggested they might like to do this too.
Another big thing we discussed was being kind to yourself. Don't tear yourself down. EVERYONE makes mistakes and the Saviour atoned for our sins so we can repent. Our mistakes are never too big to repent from and when we repent and learn from our mistakes it helps us improve and makes us who we are today.
I could see this part of the lesson really impacted the girls. They were nodding and talking and agreeing. I had discussed this with quite a few of my friends before I taught it and ALL of them agreed the reasons they sinned or got into trouble had nothing to do with self control, but everything to do with the desire to feel loved and the need to have more control in their lives. I really wanted the young women to see that they can fight those issues within themselves and that we understand and can help them to. That we love them and have been through what they are going through.
I bore my testimony to close and in it mentioned that I think this time in their lives is quite possibly one of the hardest because the temptations are everywhere and school can make it really hard, as well as males their age being rather persistent. I told them I loved them and how great they all are and how well we care for one another and that if they are ever feeling down, they can know that all the people in this room love them and are there for them.
The young women thanked me after the lesson and said it was really good. It was the most eye contact I had ever had in a lesson and they were interested because it was relevant, real and included both the gospel and what is really affecting them today.