A little background - When my mother was in her teenage years in San Lorenzo, CA she was invited to a bible study put on by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She grew up in the Lutheran and Methodist faiths but agreed to join the group and learn more.
She woke up 2 hours earlier than the rest of her classmates to attend what is called "early morning seminary" to learn more about the scriptures. Seminary is similar to other faiths in that the members go to "classes" where they hear lectures on faith, doctrine, and the life of Jesus Christ. Students have tests, are graded, and receive credit for their performance and knowledge.
My mom attended seminary for two years of her high school career and graduated the program. She described to me that all those years participating in seminary, she had no idea that the teachings she heard were of an unique perspective because she had always believed the principles growing up. She felt good about the teachings and her entire life had always felt that the principles were right, she just was ignorant to the fact that other denominations didn't teach some of the same things. A year later in college, she ran into some missionaries and decided to be baptized because she had felt a witness from the Holy Ghost that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was Jesus Christ's restored church.
Many years later. I was born to my parents in a family of what ended up to be 15 kids. I had the chance to go through the same seminary program that my mom did. I was a rebellious kid back then and would wake up early but only to hang out with my friends and cause trouble.
Half way in high school we moved to Orem, UT - where the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has many members and a strong influence. The high school out there was a little different in that they would release you for a period during school to attend a seminary class that had it's own separate building next to the school. This gave me plenty of opportunities to slip away now to hang out with friends and also sleep-in in the morning. Some time went by and I started to "change my ways". I can go back and pinpoint a time of life where I made that decision and I was sitting in a seminary class. When it came time to "graduate" the seminary program it was too late for me to make up the credit I had missed the past few years. So I never accomplished what my mother did (while not being a member of the church).
Later in my own life I volunteered to teach and minister for the church as a missionary. I really could have benefited from four years of dedicated gospel study. I found myself having to play catch up with some of the other Elders in the church. Now in life I have dedicated my life to God and have made real strides in putting him first.
The only books I read for leisure are written by prophets and apostles and I can' get enough of learning about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I only graduated from high school 10 years ago but I wish I had gone and graduated the seminary program. It would have given me an advanced knowledge and perspective from great spiritual teachers that would be very useful right now. Instead I was short sighted and decided that being with friends and causing mischief were more important. I traded spiritual blessings for temporal pleasure and acceptance.
Today, I study the Book of Mormon and the Bible everyday in hopes that I catch up with some of the others my age that were smart and went faithfully to seminary. I love God and know that he exists. He has taught me many things through the Holy Spirit that have given me perspective and brought me happiness. I will always be grateful for the understanding He has given me. He is merciful, forgiving, and loves us. I wish I had known all these things earlier and I think seminary would have helped me gain this knowledge sooner.