When I was a deacon, the ominous signs of the Great Depression began to appear. Tens of thousands lost their jobs. Money was scarce. Families had to do without.
My parents were hardworking. They made every penny stretch as far as possible. That was probably the major reason everything they gave me was always two or three sizes too large.
I was 12 years old when I received my first pair of ice skates, so large that I had to stuff a third of the toe space with cotton.
When I took them out of the box, I looked up and said, “Mother, I can’t skate with these.”
“Be grateful for what you have, Joseph,” she’d say. And then, the phrase I had become so accustomed to hearing, “Don’t worry; you’ll grow into them.”
A year later, what I wanted more than anything else was football shoulder pads and a helmet. On Christmas morning, I opened my packages and there they were, shoulder pads and a helmet, except they were sized to fit Goliath—who, by the way, was six cubits or about nine feet tall.
“Mother, they’re too big,” I said.
“Be grateful for what you have, Joseph,” she said again. “Don’t worry; you’ll grow into them.”
I think back on those days with some tenderness. Curiously enough, I also look back with tenderness to my dear mother’s encouraging words, “Don’t worry, Joseph; you’ll grow into them.”
In a similar way, we all need to learn how to “grow into” our responsibilities. The Lord has His eye upon you. He loves you. He knows you. He knows your triumphs and your trials, your successes and your heartaches.
He knows that at times you may look at the challenges you may face and may think they’re too big to handle. He is, however, willing and ready to help you as you grow into the men and women you are to become.
I would like to share with you five principles that, if lived and incorporated into your lives while you are young, will assure happiness and peace throughout your lives, no matter what trials and temptations come your way.
It is essential that you know and understand that our Heavenly Father loves you like a son or daughter, because He is the Father of your spirit. That makes you His literal child, spiritually begotten of Him.
As such, you have inherited the potential to become like Him. His greatest desire is that you grow in this life line upon line, becoming more like Him so that one day you can return to His presence.
God’s love is complete and without limit for you and for all mankind (see John 3:16). He is perfectly just and merciful. He is perfectly kind and understands your circumstances and condition. He knows you better than you know yourself.
God’s commandments are not given to limit or punish us. They are exercises that create character and sanctify souls. If we disregard them, we become spiritually flabby and weak and without defense. If we keep them, we can become spiritual giants, strong and bold in righteousness.
Day-to-day obedience to God’s commandments is indispensable.
We can come unto Christ as we learn to love Him and as we study the scriptures diligently. How do we show our love for the Savior? He gave us the answer: “If ye love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).
Every one of you can read something in the scriptures each day. You should spend some time pondering and studying the scriptures. It is better to read and ponder even one verse than none at all. I challenge each of you to read something in the scriptures every day for the rest of your lives. Few things you do will bring you greater dividends.
Learn of your Savior. Jesus Christ suffered in the Garden of Gethsemane more than you can comprehend. He suffered similarly on the cross, where He gave His life to pay the penalty for our sins if we will repent. And then in His ultimate triumph, He was resurrected and broke the bands of death, making the Resurrection available to all.
The more you understand the Atonement and what it means, the less likely you will be to fall prey to temptations of the adversary. No other doctrine will bring greater results in improving behavior and strengthening character than the doctrine of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. It is central to God’s plan and is preeminent in the restored gospel.
The gift of the Holy Ghost is one of the most precious gifts you can receive in mortality. The principal mission of the Holy Ghost is to testify of our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ. If you are careful in keeping the commandments, the Holy Ghost will help you learn more about Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
The promptings of the Holy Ghost may come to you in a still, small voice. You cannot grow spiritually unless you first rise above the things of the world that clamor for your attention. Some of the world’s music is degrading, vulgar, and inappropriate and will drown out the promptings of the Holy Ghost. Avoid objectionable television shows and movies, evil Internet sites, and all forms of entertainment that portray or encourage immorality and violence. Shun pornography like a deadly, contagious sin and disease. Bringing into your body substances forbidden by the Lord in the Word of Wisdom will prevent you from feeling and recognizing the promptings of the Holy Ghost.
Since my youth, I have always been impressed by the fact that our Heavenly Father and His Beloved Son, Jesus Christ, would answer the heartfelt prayers of a 14-year-old boy who was searching for the truth. Just as He answered Joseph Smith’s prayer, our Heavenly Father will answer your prayers in His own time and in His own way.
The more I know of the Prophet Joseph, the more I love him, the more I yearn to follow his example, the more I appreciate what our Father in Heaven and His Son have done in restoring this gospel that is destined to fill the earth in these, the latter days.
President Gordon B. Hinckley is the successor and guardian of those priesthood keys that were first restored to the Prophet Joseph Smith. In mortality, only one man at a time holds and exercises all of the priesthood keys; today that man is President Gordon B. Hinckley.
Follow the teachings of our modern-day prophet. He is inspired of the Lord to teach us those things that are necessary for us to live happily and righteously.
You are a chosen generation. You have been raised up by the Lord to carry His Church and kingdom into the 21st century. You have been chosen by the Lord to come forth on the earth when wickedness and evil are very powerful. But you are up to the challenge.
That does not mean you will not face your share of heartaches, challenges, and trials. Since the days when I first stuffed cotton into my ice skates and put on oversized shoulder pads and helmet, my life has been filled with experiences and challenges that seemed at the time too big for me.
But every day I try to put Heavenly Father first in my life, I try to come unto Christ and follow Him as my Savior and Redeemer, I nurture the companionship of the Holy Ghost, love and revere the Prophet Joseph, and listen to and follow God’s prophet today. As I do those things, I am confident the Lord will bless me.
Even after all these years, I can still hear the voice of my mother: “Be grateful for what you have, Joseph. Don’t worry; you’ll grow into it.”
It is my prayer that we may all grow as our Heavenly Father wants us to.