My husband and I went to church with our oldest daughter yesterday. She's in a married, single's ward at USU, and goes to the same building we attended in the long ago days that we were also in a married, student ward at USU. I was smacked with a face full of deja vu, and struck with how little has changed. There were a whole bunch of young people, even more babies. The thing that was obviously lacking was money. But the nice thing is that it didn't matter much. None of them expect to have money, or to dress in the latest thing, so it doesn't matter.
While in the meeting, I had a crazy wish that the bishop would call me up to speak. Trust me, speaking impromptu in church is not something I generally, or ever, hope for. But I did have my reasons. In the years that I attended that long ago student ward, it seemed that the speakers from the "outside" world had a recurring theme. Time and again they would get up and say "It's not going to get any easier once you graduate." I would get so annoyed with that. I wanted to stand up and say "So why are we here then? Why don't we just give it up and get jobs and get on with our lives if it's not going to get any easier?" I told myself that if I ever came back, I would tell those students that the sacrifices they are making to be in school are worth it, that it does get easier!
Now that I've had a couple of decades of perspective, I can better see what those old folks meant. In a lot of ways they're right, it doesn't get easier. The struggles they're facing now are still there, multiplied. The bumps that they are navigating will turn into such highs and lows that they'll think they have whiplash. They'll face challenges they can't even dream of, hardships they wouldn't think they could endure.
But despite that, or maybe because of that, I can tell them that the sacrifices they're making to start their families with a foundation of education are well worth it. Their educations will strenghten them, and their children, in a way that will cushion all those bumps they're bound to face and make the ride bearable.
Sitting in that meeting reminded me of being a spectator at a marathon, as if all those bright young faces were lined up, poised for the gun to go off. I didn't get to tell them to hold on for the ride, but if had, that's what I would have said.