In the LDS church, when a girl is between 12-18 years of age she attends Young Women's. I loved the Young Women program when I was growing up. As you can imagine, putting girls in that age range together and basically forcing them to be friends can be a bit dramatic at times. There were fights, there were hugs, there were camp outs, and inside jokes. As much as I loved the girls, I loved my leaders 10 times more. I usually hung out with my leaders more than I did the girls at activities. I couldn't tell you why, but I felt like that's where I belonged at times.
When I graduated from high school and was just about to move to Ephraim for school three of my leaders (two whom had moved away) took the time out of their day to take me to dinner, and send me off to school with well wishes and wonderful advice. That was something I did, and still do cherish dearly.
I remember once in high school my friends and I had planned to go to a University of Utah gymnastics meet, but my friends forgot to come and get me. So a few weeks later I went to a different gymnastics meet with two of my young women's leaders. I look back on that day, and laugh but it is also something I am grateful for.
But the reason I am writing this post, is because my heart has been so full of gratitude over the past few days for one of my leaders who turned out to be one of my greatest friends.
Her name is Kristin....
I can't even tell you at what point in Young Women's she became a leader, but it was towards the end of my time in young women's. She helped me a lot in high school, especially during my senior year. I struggled with friends during my senior year. I struggled really bad. I clearly remember one night I was with some friends, and I just wanted to go home. For some reason I didn't leave, I just sat there and endured the evening. During the evening I would text Kristin, at this point I don't remember what our conversation was about, or what she told me, all I remember is I felt like I had someone I could turn to.
Kristin encouraged me to participate in school activities, including giving me the money to attend our senior dinner dance because she knew I would regret it. Was it a life altering event? No, definitely not. Am I glad I went? Yeah, I actually am. But that moment in time is more significant to me because it showed the love Kristin had for me.
I moved away to Snow... I loved Snow. I loved my roommates. However, there were times when I needed to not be with my roommates. I distinctly remember one night when I was so frustrated with my roommates. I needed to get away, and spend time alone. I walked outside, to the gazebo on the side of our apartment complex, and the next thing I knew...I had dialed Kristin's phone number and I was sitting there having a conversation with her, telling her about the dumb things my roommates were doing or whatever the problem was. Again, I don't remember the details of the conversation, I just remember feeling so blessed to have someone to talk to.
When I moved home from Ephraim, Kristin gave me one of the most amazing opportunities in the world. She trusted me with her adorable little boy, and I soon became known as "the favorite babysitter". I'd play with her son while she went into her work for a few hours, and by the time she got home, he was usually asleep and I was able to sit and talk with Kristin.
Kristin knows about all my awkward singles ward events, she encourages me to keep going to the ward even when I think it's lame (although she's recently been trying to get back to the home ward...) Although she says she is a billion years older than me, I don't feel that way when I spend time with her. I went to her son's t-ball game on Thursday, which is where this post stemmed from. We sat and chatted the whole game, in fact, I'm pretty sure we missed most of the game. She understands my love and my yearning for traveling. She encourages it, and keeps reminding me that "one day" I'll make it to the places I want to visit. I am constantly amazed at the things that she remembers from past conversations. I am constantly feeling so blessed that a leader became one of the greatest friends I could have ever asked for.
I tell her this frequently, mostly in reference to her going to every play/musical ever made, but...
I want to be like her when I grow up. I want to be a loving, kind, generous, out-going, spiritual, all around wonderful person. I want to be able to be an example to someone like she has been to me. I may not remember every lesson she taught us on Sunday's and I certainly don't remember every conversation we've had. But I know I will always remember how much love I felt when I was around her, and how much it meant to me that she would take them time to listen to a crazy 18 year old complain about her ridiculous (at times) roommates.