One year. 180 days. 1260 hours. Twelve hundred sixty hours, I spend with sweaty, hormonal, extremely entertaining 14-year-olds. On the first day of school, this is what they are to me—just sweaty, hormonal, odd beings. Then, I teach them. I teach them for one year. 180 days. 1260 hours. I teach geography. I teach them about the world. I teach them about cultures, I teach about people. Nelson Mandella, Immaculee Ilbabagiza (A Rwandan refugee), Anne Frank, and other people who have made a difference in the worlds. They learn, but mostly, I learn. I learn of their struggles, their needs, their desires. I see them at their happiest as they make good choices and I see some darken as their lives are influenced by bad decisions of parents and friends. Throughout all this, I can’t share with them about me—my beliefs, what makes me happy, or where I turn when I am sad.
I love them. This is what I, their teacher, mentor, and sort-of-friend, would tell them if I could.
1. You are special. God loves you. He knows you. He wants you to be happy. Our Savior knows your pains and your heartache. He understands you. Thomas S. Monson stated, “Only the Master knows the depth of our trials. He alone offers us peace in that time of adversity. He alone touches our tortured souls.” He loves you.
2. I am happy when I live the teachings of Jesus Christ—loving all, serving all, living my standards. These make me my happiest. I think they will make you happy, too.
3. Figure out what you believe and live it. Own it. It is empowering to believe something and to live it. Do it for you, not for someone else. When you figure it out, share it. If it makes you happy, you’ll be happiest when you share what you love.
4. Be confident. There is power in loving yourself for who you are, for who God made you to be. Stand tall. People will notice you and they will respect you.
5. Have hope. God trusts you to take control of your life. Regardless of your parents’ decisions or your past, have hope. You are strong. You are loved. Take confidence in your future.
Joshua 1:9 states, “Be strong and of a good courage, be not afraid. Neither be thou dismayed: For the Lord thy God shall lead the whitersoever thou goest.”
So, to my dear student, you are special, follow our Savior, live what you believe, be confident, and have hope. I love you. Your parents/guardians love you, but most importantly, the Savior loves you. I know it!