With my whole soul, I say amen to the words of this stirring song, “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” (Hymns, no. 214), sung so beautifully by this lovely chorus of young women and their mothers and sisters.
I praise him with heart and voice. For this sesquicentennial year I have asked myself: “What if the gospel had not been restored to the earth in the latter days? Where would I be? What would my life be like? Would I be searching ‘lo, here, and lo, there’ (see JS—H 1:5) for the answers to life’s great questions?” Instead, I am secure in the knowledge that God lives and loves us!
I hope that every young woman in the Church will take a look backward in appreciation and a look forward in renewed commitment during this year of commemorating the organization of the Church. As we have been assigned to sponsor the project of stitchery, we encourage each one of you to create something that will be a reminder of this historic year.
Consider with me tonight three very brief statements: First, remember yesterday; second, enjoy today; and third, prepare for tomorrow.
By “Remember yesterday” I mean some way-back yesterdays. Think back in imagination to the day when you sat in a heavenly council and voted to come to earth and face the problems you are now having in order to learn and grow and to try—and try again—to choose what is good and shun what is evil and to prove yourself worthy to return to your heavenly parents who care so deeply about everything you do. Other yesterdays to remember have been mentioned here in vignettes of song and story as we search our spiritual roots during this important year.
One yesterday special to young women is the birthday of our own organization, when President Brigham Young called his older daughters together and counseled them to turn their heads from the extravagant and foolish fashions of the world and to turn their hearts to the ways of the Lord. “Retrench,” he said, “retrench in everything that is bad and worthless, and improve in everything that is good and beautiful” (The Improvement Era, May 1969, p. 1)—a message needed more today than ever before.
This was the birth of the Young Ladies Retrenchment Society, and it started to grow from that moment. In one place, as the association began, the minutes were recorded to say, “A large and respectable congregation was in attendance.” However, a closer look at the minutes showed only two people were present—the newly called president and her secretary. But the secretary defended her entry by saying: “The minutes are correct. The president is very large, and I am certainly respectable.”
Every November we hope you will remember the yesterday of our beginning and renew your commitment to live in the world but not be of the world with appropriate celebrations of the birthday of Young Women.
Another important yesterday is the day before today. If mistakes were made, learn from them, turn from them, repent of them. Do not allow your yesterdays to become like stones gathered in a bag that you must carry on from day to day like a burden to weigh you down. Jesus said “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
“For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matt. 11:28, 30).
The second statement I would have you remember is “Enjoy today!” Make the most of your sparkling vitality and youthful exuberance. In Psalms it says: “This is the day which the Lord hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it” (Ps. 118:24).
One father I know tells his children as they go out, “Have a good time! Have such a good time that you remember it with joy forever—no regrets, no remorse, no heartaches, but just joy, forever.”
In today’s world of entertainment, most of what is going on is wrong. It may be harder now to find what is good and shun what is evil. But you may be here, at this time, for just that very reason. It is my deep conviction that we have never had a stronger generation of young people than we have in the Church today. Wherever I go, I meet with groups of beautiful, capable young people whose very countenances shine and who are planting tender roots of testimony that are growing strong and deep.
Young people, you can be the leaven in the loaf (see Matt. 13:33). The Lord is counting on you to make a difference in the world. President Spencer W. Kimball has said:
“What a glorious day in which to live! O Youth of a noble birthright, the world is at your feet! You were born at this time to have dominion tomorrow over the earth and all things therein. What a priceless heritage. But there are detours and you could miss the way. You can grovel in the earth or you can climb to the skies. In this life’s university you can fail or you can graduate with high honors. All depends upon you and your attitudes and determinations” (Church News, Feb. 13, 1960, p. 4).
Meeting bravely the challenges of your life can bring you your greatest enjoyment of every day. As you use your todays in happy ways to make a responsible difference in the world, you will find more lasting joy than even in dancing, dating, eating, or sleeping.
Wonderful todays are, of course, part of the third statement: “Prepare for tomorrow.” In Young Women we are committed to helping you prepare for all your tomorrows, for whatever lies ahead of you.
The personal progress program is designed to help you develop all the areas of a balanced life. Progress is an eternal principle. It does not begin when you turn 12, nor end when you reach 18. It goes on forever. If you can learn how to set goals and achieve them, you can be in control of your own life and happiness.
My dear young friends, we love you very much. We want to help you in every way we possibly can; but the responsibility to work out your life and salvation is your very own. Look back with pride and remember your yesterdays. Enjoy your todays and live each one fully to make a difference in the world. Prepare for a glorious tomorrow of eternal progression.
As the poet Kalidaea says:
Look to this Day! …
For Yesterday is but a Dream,
And To-morrow is only a Vision:
But To-day well-lived makes
Every Yesterday a Dream of Happiness,
And every To-morrow a Vision of Hope.
Look well therefore to this Day!
Such is the Salutation of the Dawn!
(Masterpieces of Religious Verse, ed. James Dalton Morrison, New York and London: Harper and Brothers Publishers, 1948, p. 301)
That you may do so, with great joy and noble purpose, is my prayer in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.