President Thomas S. Monson told young women of the Church that their first years on Earth were precious, special years during which Satan had no power to tempt them because they had not yet become accountable, but they have now entered or will soon enter what some have labeled “the terrible teens.” He said he prefers the title “terrific teens,” a period when young people have “a time of opportunity, a season of growth, a semester of development—marked by the acquisition of knowledge and the quest for truth.”
Speaking in the General Young Women Meeting in the Conference Center on March 24, President Monson said, “No one has described the teenage years as being easy. They are often years of insecurity, of feeling as though you just don’t measure up, of trying to find your place with your peers, of trying to fit in. This is a time when you are becoming more independent—and perhaps desire more freedom than your parents are willing to give you right now. They are also prime years when Satan will tempt you and will do his utmost to entice you from the path which will lead you back to that heavenly home from which you came and back to your loved ones there and back to your Heavenly Father.”
He cautioned the young women that the world is not equipped to provide the help they need to make it through life’s treacherous journey.
“So many in our society today seem to have slipped from the moorings of safety and drifted from the harbor of peace,” he said.
“Permissiveness, immorality, pornography, drugs, the power of peer pressure—all of these and more cause many to be tossed about on a sea of sin and crushed on the jagged reefs of lost opportunities, forfeited blessings, and shattered dreams.”
He told the young women that there is a way to safety, an escape from threatened destruction. He counseled them to “look to the lighthouse of the Lord,” whose never-failing signals will guide them to safety and back to their Heavenly Home. “There is no fog so dense, no night so dark, no gale so strong, no mariner so lost but what the lighthouse of the Lord can rescue,” he said.
President Monson then talked about three essential signals from the Lord’s lighthouse that will help the young women return to their Heavenly Father, Who eagerly awaits their triumphant homecoming. Those signals are believe, obey, and endure.
“Believe that you are a daughter of Heavenly Father, that He loves you and that you are here for a glorious purpose—to gain your eternal salvation,” President Monson counseled. “Believe that remaining strong and faithful to the truths of the gospel is of utmost importance. I testify that it is!”
He encouraged the young women to believe the words of the Young Women theme, which they repeat each week. “There is truth there. Strive always to live the values which are set forth. Believe, as your theme states, that if you accept and act upon those values, you will be prepared to strengthen your home and your family, to make and keep sacred covenants, to receive the ordinances of the temple, and to eventually enjoy the blessings of exaltation. These are beautiful gospel truths, and by following them you will be happier throughout your life here and hereafter than you will be if you disregard them.”
President Monson counseled the young women, “Besides attending your Sunday meetings and your weeknight activities, when you have the chance to be involved in seminary, whether in the early morning or in released time classes, take advantage of that opportunity. … As with anything in life, much of what you take from your seminary experience depends on your attitude and your willingness to be taught. May your attitude be one of humility and a desire to learn.”
He spoke of his opportunity to attend seminary as a teenager.
To illustrate how seminary can change lives, he told of the time he was on a board of directors with a fine man of integrity who had been extremely successful. The man had gained his testimony because of seminary, not as a student but as a parent. Not a member of the Church, he had no desire to attend meetings with his wife and children, who were members. One day he drove his daughters to early morning seminary and, because it was raining, waited in the hallway to drive them to school. Through the open door, he listened to that day’s seminary lesson. “His heart was touched,” President Monson said. “For the rest of that school year, he attended seminary with his daughters, which led eventually to his membership and a lifetime of activity in the Church. Let seminary help build and strengthen your testimony.
“There will be times when you will face challenges which might jeopardize your testimony, or you may neglect it as you pursue other interests. I plead with you to keep it strong. It is your responsibility, and yours alone, to keep its flame burning brightly. Effort is required, but it is effort you will never, ever regret,” he declared
“Obey your parents,” President Monson admonished. “Obey the laws of God. They are given to us by a loving Heavenly Father. When they are obeyed, our lives will be more fulfilling, less complicated. Our challenges and problems will be easier to bear. We will receive the Lord’s promised blessings. He has said, ‘The Lord requireth the heart and a willing mind; and the willing and obedient shall eat the good of the land of Zion in these last days’ (Doctrine and Covenants 64:34).
“You have but one life to live. Keep it as free from trouble as you can. You will be tempted, sometimes by individuals you had thought friends.”
He told of a Mia Maid adviser who related an experience she had with a young woman in her class. The teenager had planned to leave activity night for Young Women and meet up with her girlfriends and their dates, all of whom were popular at school. They would then attend a party where alcoholic beverages would be consumed and where the behavior would be in complete violation of what the young woman knew was right.
“The teacher had prayed for inspiration in helping all her girls, but especially this particular young woman who seemed so uncertain about her commitment to the gospel. … [As] the discussion progressed, the young woman’s heart was touched, her conscience awakened, and her determination renewed. ... She remained throughout the evening with her teacher and the other girls in the class. The temptation to detour from God’s approved way had been averted. Satan had been frustrated.”
Further, President Monson said, “Precious young women, make every decision you contemplate pass this test: ‘What does it do to me? What does it do for me?’ And let your code of conduct emphasize not, ‘What will others think?’ but rather, ‘What will I think of myself?’ Be influenced by that still, small voice. Remember that one with authority placed his hands on your head at the time of your confirmation and said, ‘Receive the Holy Ghost.’ Open your hearts, even your very souls, to the sound of that special voice which testifies of truth. As the prophet Isaiah promised, ‘Thine ears shall hear a word … saying, This is the way, walk ye in it’ (Isaiah 31:20).
“The tenor of our times is permissiveness. Magazines and television shows portray the stars of the movie screen, the heroes of the athletic field—those whom many young people long to emulate—as disregarding the laws of God and flaunting sinful practices, seemingly with no ill effect. Don’t you believe it! There is a time of reckoning—even a balancing of the ledger. Every Cinderella has her midnight—if not in this life, then in the next. Judgment day will come for all. Are you prepared? Are you pleased with your own performance?
“If any has stumbled in her journey, I promise you that there is a way back. The process is called repentance. Our Savior died to provide you and me that blessed gift.”
Further, President Monson said, “My beloved young sisters, you have the precious gift of agency. I plead with you to choose to obey.”
President Monson gave a definition of the word “endure”: To withstand with courage. “Courage may be necessary for you to believe; it will at times be necessary as you obey,” he said. “It will most certainly be required as you endure until that day when you will leave this mortal existence.”
He said that over the years he has given counsel to people who have faced problems, real concerns and challenges. He told the young women he would share with them the suggestion he has given others: “‘Seek heavenly guidance one day at a time. Life by the yard is hard; by the inch it’s a cinch. Each of us can be true for just one day—and then one more, and then one more after that, until we’ve lived a lifetime guided by the Spirit, a lifetime close to the Lord, a lifetime of good deeds and righteousness. The Savior promised: ‘Look unto me, and endure to the end, and ye shall live; for unto him that endureth to the end will I give eternal life’ (3 Nephi 15:9).
“For this purpose have you come into mortality, my young friends. There is nothing more important than the goal you strive to attain—even eternal life in the Kingdom of your Father.”
Concluding his address, President Monson said, “You are precious, precious daughters of our Heavenly Father, sent to earth at this day and time for a purpose. You have been withheld until this very hour. Wonderful, glorious things are in store for you if you will only believe, obey and endure.”