This is an unusual occasion to have all of these beautiful young women, most of them with their leaders beside them, gathered together to celebrate this very special year in the history of the Church. All of us have been dedicated in our lives to listening to the message of the gospel and to conducting our lives according to its principles. I know of no way to express a picture of life in a capsule better than with the Primary song we all know and love so well:
I am a child of God,
And he has sent me here,
Has given me an earthly home
With parents kind and dear.
Lead me, guide me, walk beside me,
Help me find the way.
Teach me all that I must do
To live with him someday.
(Sing with Me, B–76)
This message is in our hearts today. We are baptized members of the Church of Jesus Christ. We have been given the gift of the Holy Ghost to guide us on the perilous journey ahead. Christ has set the example and has left us a set of directions which, if we follow, will lead us safely back to his presence. He has not promised us that the road will be easy. In fact, he has told us that it will be difficult at times, but that problems will help us to grow in strength. He has assured us that he stands ready to help us and to guide us all the way if we but seek him in earnest prayer continually.
I would hope that each of you has formed the habit of making your first good morning be to our Heavenly Father, with the request that he guide and direct you safely this day, that he will help you to resist temptation and to make wise choices in the use of your time and the choice of your companions. Let your evening prayer be one of thanksgiving for a good day.
The scriptures tell us that “wickedness never was happiness” (Alma 41:10), but that man is that he might have joy (see 2 Ne. 2:25). Christ said, “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15). When asked by the Pharisee, “Which is the great commandment in the law?” his answer was, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.
“This is the first and great commandment.
“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
“On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” (Matt. 22:36–40.)
The reality of the importance of love in our lives is attested to by all those who analyze our gracious need. Love is a two-way street. We give generously to others and receive love in return. Keep this truism always in your mind. Let there be love and harmony in your family, with your friends, everywhere. And we are even directed to love our enemies, which is perhaps the greatest test of all.
If we keep a cheerful countenance, with a smile for all, it helps to reflect our feeling of love toward all. Cultivate an attitude of optimism. A recognition and appreciation of self is important to cultivate. Keeping in mind that we are children of God should help us to feel that with this royal heritage it is most important that we make of ourselves optimistic, happy, worthy individuals. The world is full of unhappy, lonely individuals.
We should make a resolution to do some kind act of loving service every day. It’s easy to express appreciation and love to those close around us. Let us make it a habit.
Let me repeat: Our greatest responsibility is to ourselves. We must learn to be self-reliant and independent. The care of our physical needs is a priority. Self-mastery is our goal. Spirituality must be developed by scripture reading and activity in Church projects. A continuing education should be a goal from childhood to old age. We are mindful of the scriptures which tell us we cannot be saved in ignorance. We must constantly remind ourselves that we are, after all, accountable for what we make of our lives. We have our free agency, which brings with it the awesome results of the choices we make. Weigh your choices carefully. We are all important to our Heavenly Father.
Some of you young people here are approaching the period of courtship where you will make the most important decision of your life. Be sure that your associations are wise and discreet. Your personal chastity is your most priceless treasure. Guard it with your life. Choosing friends wisely at this time of dating is particularly important. It is a time of great emotional strain. Fortify yourself and remember that God’s law of chastity will be in force so long as time lasts, no matter what others may say.
I like this little poem by Edgar A. Guest:
I have to live with myself, and so
I want to be fit for myself to know;
I want to be able as days go by
Always to look myself straight in the eye;
I don’t want to stand with the setting sun
And hate myself for the things I’ve done.
I don’t want to keep on a closet shelf
A lot of secrets about myself,
And fool myself as I come and go
Into thinking that nobody else will know
The kind of a man I really am;
I don’t want to dress myself up in sham.
I want to go out with my head erect,
I want to deserve all men’s respect;
But here in the struggle for fame and pelf,
I want to be able to like myself.
I don’t want to think as I come and go
That I’m bluster and bluff and empty show.
I never can hide myself from me,
I see what others may never see,
I know what others may never know,
I never can fool myself—and so,
Whatever happens, I want to be
Self-respecting and conscience free.
(Collected Verse of Edgar A. Guest, Chicago: Reilly and Lee Co. Publishers, 1934, p. 724)
This scripture means much to me, and I hope you may make it part of your life. From 2 Nephi 31:20 [2 Ne. 31:20]: “Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.”
In conclusion I would like to bear my testimony to the truthfulness of the gospel of Jesus Christ and to testify that I find it the greatest possible help in solving the problems as we meet them day by day. I know that Christ is our Savior, that he lives, that he has pointed the way to peace and security; and I pray that our Heavenly Father may help each of us to keep this knowledge in our hearts and to conduct our lives according to his teachings, that we may spread love and understanding to all those we meet, and that each of us may arrive safely at the destination which we so much desire—that of eternal life. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.