Sunday Corner | 14 & The Holy Ghost

15 January 2017

I have been switched from teaching the 16-17 year olds to the 13-14 year olds.  I was so bummed because the switch happened midweek, so I never got to say goodbye to the teenagers I had come to know and love.  I just disappeared as their teacher, and I really, really miss how much they made me laugh every week.  I am still in grieving, so I wear lots of black.  However, I am enjoying my new class and the new personalities, and I have a co-teacher who I really like named Amanda.

Today was my turn to teach.  I drew a giant 14 on the board, as I asked, "So what age are all of you turning this year?"  FOURTEEEEN!!!

Then I had the boys guess a well known man in the scriptures who was also 14 at a significant time.  I gave them clues until they got it.  Joseph Smith - when he prayed in the Sacred Grove.  Then I had the girls guess a well known woman in the scriputres who was 14 at a significant turn in her life.  Mary -- when she gave birth to Jesus.  The girls' eyes were so wide-eyed.  Mostly with fright.  "She was OUR age???"  Amanda and I explained that women were married much younger in those days.  And the boys reaction to Joseph Smith ... meh.  Keeping their focus is our challenge.  Example - two weeks ago, one of the boys randomly shouted in the middle of Amanda teaching --- "GLITTER DONUT!!"  Then he points at the ceiling where he found a sparkly donut sticker on the ceiling.  Hahaha!

Anyway, so I had them sit and ponder for a second about Mary and Joseph Smith, and how much they must have lived by the Spirit to be a part of something so grand at 14- their age!  The girls still looked so shocked at the idea of giving birth.  The boys... haha, I don't know.  I can't read where they are at when I'm teaching.  So if Mary and Joseph Smith had that much Spirit in their lives at 13 and 14, shouldn't everyone in our class be capable of having that much Spirit as well?

We spent some time reading specific scriptures and learning more about the Holy Ghost:

He brings us truth.  We distinguished truth as the Gospel principles, and also other truths like everything being made of molecules and atoms, and our bodies are better when they are healthy.  So He can bring us Truth not only with the Gospel, but He can help us understand all the truths in many subjects.

Then we read another scripture and talked about how the Spirit enlightens us.  What does that mean?  It means the Spirit helps us be happy and have a good attitude; it helps us have clarity and discernment when we are overwhelmed and confused; it helps us be more capable to do more things.  Yes!

Then we read a scripture that the Spirit unfolds the mysteries of God.  What does that mean?  The kids couldn't think of an answer, so I had them think of an onion.  Half of us thought of Shrek, and we laughed, so I changed my mind and said I didn't like that analogy.  Amanda suggested a cinnamon roll.  I had everyone close their eyes and imagine a big fluffy, buttery roll with frosting oozing down the warm sides.  Imagine taking a bite of the outside piece of dough and slowly eating inward, the bites getting squishier and sweeter, until you reach the center piece bite that is just exquisite.  That's the Gospel.  We can dig deeper and deeper into the layers of the Truths of God, and the Spirit helps us see the increasing sweetness of it all as we unfold and learn more.

Then we talked about ways we can increase the Spirit in our lives:

When are some times that we feel annoyed or tired?   Before math class.  After my last class period.  Any class I have with Landon.  (whoever Landon is).  Well, if the Spirit is meant to enlighten our minds, wouldn't a perfect time to pray be right before math class, before you see Landon, or in your last period of the day?  They all nodded.  So I challenged them to pinpoint the hardest, most tiring parts of their day and promise themselves to hit pause in that moment and say a prayer.  They said they all start a new semester of school on Tuesday.  So I said, perfect!  I want every single one of you to kneel down before you leave for school on Tuesday and pray for the Spirit to be with you.  They said they would.

I asked how many of them know the Spirit is real?  They raised their hands.  Do you believe the Spirit can really help you?  They raised their hands.  Do you ever struggle with how to get the Spirit's help in the moments you most need?  They all nodded.  We all know the Spirit is real, and we want His help, but we don't feel very good at getting it.  Then I asked them if they could feel the Spirit in our class right now.  They nodded.  Do you feel the Spirit when you are at home and your siblings are fighting and it's your turn to do the dishes?  They shook their heads.  It's hard to summon the Spirit when you are already at your tipping point, huh?  We know more of what we need from the Spirit in quiet moments like these than in the hectic moments when we are actually needing it.  So, in these moments when the calm feelings of the Spirit are so strong, we must take advantage of that.  We can use times like this as preparatory time for the later stressful moments when you feel anything but the Spirit.  So I held up the paper of my lesson and asked - what if you had a prayer cheat sheet that would help remind you of what to pray for in those moments?  We talked about how they should all take a piece of paper and write down what they most want.  I would like helping making friends.  I would like help enjoying my math class.  I would like help being patient with my siblings.  Write it down even on just a 1/4 sheet of paper, an 1/8 sheet.  Just write it down.  Then next time you are struggling, pull your paper out and say, "Heavenly Father, could I have your Spirit to help me....." then read your script.  I told them that I once made a list of things I enjoyed praying for and hung it by my bed.  It helped me immensely.  So I challenged them to do that, and they nodded.

Then we ended the lesson by saying that even though the Spirit is absolutely willing to help us, we still have to put in our best effort.  Amanda pointed out that when praying for help on a test, He won't tell you the answers, but He'll help you remember what you have studied for yourself.  So I told them a saying I heard once:  Get on your knees and pray like everything depends on God, then get up and work like everything depends on you. 

I told them to think of the Prophet Thomas S. Monsen and asked if his level of the Spirit is like a flashlight or like a flood light of a football stadium.  They chose the latter.  Yes!  And he uses that light to lead a world of 8 billion people.  And each one of us is eligible to that much light to lead our own lives.  That's A LOT!  President Uchtdorf once said that we are far undertapped in how much we use the Spirit for how much of the Spirit we are allowed.

I asked them what they were going to do this week to help live a greater life with the Spirit.  They listed the ideas we came up with.  Then I told them how confident I felt that they would have an amazing week because of the Spirit.  And I was going to pray that they would recognize the Spirit's help and feel such a distinct benefit that they will turn to Him time and time again, taking more and more bites of their cinnamon roll.

Then Amanda said that maybe she'll bring cinnamon rolls next week :)

And now, I must eat my own pudding... hmm.. that's not an idiom is it?  Oh well.  It is now.

I am going to make a list of relevant things I could pray for to help me get deeper in the Gospel cinnamon roll right now.  And boy, there's a number of them.

I'm so grateful for the Spirit and for Amanda and for my sweet class.  And, that glitter donut that's still on the ceiling.

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  1. I miss teaching the 16 year old also! I miss the kids in the class, but even more I love hearing YOUR thoughts. Sounds like an awesome lesson you gave today! I love how you made it real by talking about Joseph Smith and Mary being almost their same age. I also like how you made it so applicable to their every day life over the upcoming week.