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Jun. 22nd, 2012 at 12:14 pm
When I was 18 during a New Beginnings or Night of Excellence, I could never tell the difference between the two, I received my personal progress necklace and certificate. My parents were not there, they were sick, and the bishop noted how important this award was. Little did he know I already knew it.
According to Mom she was wearing hers when she met what would eventually become her husband. Every time they went on a date she would proudly wear her necklace to ensure he knew she was a force to be reckoned with. This was a woman who did the female equivalency of 10 years in Boy Scouts.
I’m sure my parents didn’t mean for it to come out that way, but my young mind meant the story to mean if I got this award I would be granted two things for my righteousness. #1 a deserving husband, #2 a way to stand out from the crowd. Things sure have changed since they were dating.
A month before the medallion was given to me, a girl who turned 12 seven months ago was receiving hers. She talked about how special it was to her and her mom. Spending Saturday morning reading scriptures and Sunday afternoon cooking dinner helped her learn the important homemaking skills needed to fulfill her role as a mother someday. Turns out in the ward we moved into when I was 15 it was a major thing when a girl didn’t have her personal progress by the time she was in Mia Maids. So seeing a beehive receive an honor that should take at least two years to complete was not odd in anyone’s book.
As I’ve gotten older and received numerous might-as-well-be-spam emails from the Relief Society presidency about wearing our medallions for the month of January to show support for the program I have come to the following conclusion and have learned a few facts.
Personal Progress and an Eagle Scout award are not the same. One is recognized only by a certain religious realm with most people unaware it even exists. The other is so widely known universities and the military offer incentives for teens to achieve it. One can be bought online for $10 brand new the other costs more than five times that. Personal Progress focuses on spiritual development. Scouts focus on community and survival techniques. Comparing the two might as well be comparing apples and oranges. Both are fruit, but that’s about it.
The unbalance between young men and young women is quite frankly embarrassing. One would think the opposite would be true in regards to who Personal Progress should be for. Young men are expected to serve a mission for the Lord at 19 years of age wherever they are called to. Surely they would be the ones to benefit the most in reading the entire Book of Mormon. Missions are hard. Spiritually, emotionally, psychically draining to say the least. All of those aspects of personal development are covered in the Personal Progress program, with the major emphasis being on the spiritual.
The average woman even if she were to serve a mission wouldn’t be needing the spiritual development until she turns 21. Sure knowing 1st Nephi comes before 2nd Nephi comes in handy when raising children, but is that really what Personal Progress is all about? Simply educating women about the faith they were most likely born into on the off chance they meet a man and produce children? Are we still hung up on fertile uteruses being the only value female church members have? When will this endless comparing apples and oranges to make oranges feel better stop?