Someone gave me a copy of my high school yearbook the other day. I spent an hour thumbing through it, looking at the pictures of my friends of 73 years ago, my high school class of 1928. Most of those in that yearbook have now lived their lives and gone beyond. Some seem to have lived almost without purpose, while others lived with great achievements.
I looked at the faces of the boys who were my friends and associates. Once they were youthful and bright and energetic. Now those who are left are wrinkled and slow in their walk. Their lives still have meaning, but they are not as vital as they once were. I looked in that old yearbook at the faces of the girls I knew. Many of them have passed on, and the remainder live in the shadows of life. But they are still beautiful and fascinating.
My thoughts go back to those young men and women of my youth, back to where you are today. By and large, we were a happy lot. We enjoyed life. I think we were ambitious. The dark and terrible Depression which swept over the earth would not come for another year. Nineteen-twenty-eight was a season of high hopes and splendid dreams.
In our quieter moments we were all dreamers. The boys dreamed of mountains yet to climb and careers yet to be lived. The girls dreamed of becoming the kind of woman that most of them saw in their mothers.
When I spoke to the youth of the Church, I suggested six B’s that you ought to pursue. Be Grateful. Be Smart. Be Clean. Be True. Be Humble. Be Prayerful.
I have not the slightest doubt that these patterns of behavior will yield success and happiness and peace. I believe you will be successful in your endeavors. As you grow old, I am satisfied that you will look back with appreciation for the manner in which you chose to live.
In the yearbook of which I have spoken is the picture of a young woman. She was bright and effervescent and beautiful. She was a charmer. Life for her could be summed up in one short word—fun. She dated the boys and danced away the days and nights, studying a little but not too much, just enough to get grades that would take her through graduation. She married a boy of her own kind. Alcohol took possession of her life. She was a slave to it. Her body succumbed to its treacherous grip. Sadly, her life faded without achievement.
There is a picture of another girl in that yearbook. She was not particularly beautiful. But she had a wholesome look about her, a sparkle in her eyes, and a smile on her face. She knew why she was in school. She was there to learn. She dreamed of the kind of woman she wanted to be and patterned her life accordingly. She also knew how to have fun but knew when to stop and put her mind on other things.
There was a boy in school at the time. He had come from a small rural town. He had very little money. There was nothing especially handsome or dashing about him. He was a good student. He had set a goal for himself. It was lofty and, at times, appeared almost impossible of attainment.
These two fell in love. People said, “What does he see in her?” Or, “What does she see in him?” They each saw something wonderful which no one else saw.
Upon graduating from the university, they married. Money was hard to come by. He went on to graduate school. She continued to work for a time, and then their children came. She gave her attention to them.
A few years ago, I was riding a plane home from the East. It was late at night. I walked down the aisle in the semidarkness. I saw a woman asleep with her head on the shoulder of her husband. She awakened as I approached. I immediately recognized the girl I had known in high school so long before. I recognized the boy I had also known. They were now approaching old age. As we talked, she explained that their children were grown, that they were grandparents. She proudly told me that they were returning from the East, where he had gone to deliver a paper. There at a great convention he had been honored by his peers from across the nation.
I learned that they had been active in the Church, serving in whatever capacity they were asked to serve. By every measure, they were successful. They had accomplished the goals which they had set for themselves. They had been honored and respected and had made a tremendous contribution to the society of which they were a part. She had become the woman of whom she had dreamed.
As I returned to my seat on the plane, I thought of those two girls of whom I have spoken. The life of the one had been lived aimlessly, without stability, without contribution to society, without ambition. It had ended in misery and pain and early death.
The life of the other had been difficult. It had meant working and struggling. It had meant simple food and plain clothing and a very modest apartment in the years of her husband’s initial effort to get started in his profession. But out of that seemingly sterile soil there had grown two plants, side by side, that blossomed and bloomed in a beautiful and wonderful way. Those beautiful blossoms spoke of service to fellowmen, of unselfishness one to another, of love and respect and faith in one’s companion, of happiness as they met the needs of others in the various activities which they pursued.
I feel so earnest, so sincere, so anxious to say something which will help you become the woman of whom you dream.
As a starter, there must be cleanliness, for immorality will blight your life and leave a scar that will never entirely leave you. There must be purpose. We are here to accomplish something, to bless society with our talents and our learning. There can be fun, yes. But there must be recognition of the fact that life is serious, that the risks are great, but that you can overcome them if you will discipline yourselves and seek the unfailing strength of the Lord.
Let me first assure you that if you have made a mistake, if you have become involved in any immoral behavior, all is not lost. Memory of that mistake will likely linger, but the deed can be forgiven, and you can rise above the past to live a life fully acceptable unto the Lord where there has been repentance. He has promised that He will forgive your sins and remember them no more against you (see D&C 58:42).
He has set up the machinery with helpful parents and Church leaders to assist you in your difficulty. You can put behind you any evil with which you have been involved. You can go forward with a renewal of hope and acceptability to a far better way of life.
The best way, the only way for you, is to avoid any entrapment with evil. You have within you instincts, powerful and terribly persuasive, urging you at times to let go and experience a little fling. You must not do it. You cannot do it. You are daughters of God with tremendous potential. He has great expectations concerning you, as do others. You cannot let down for a minute. You cannot give in to an impulse. There must be discipline, strong and unbending. Flee from temptation, as Joseph fled from the wiles of Potiphar’s wife.
There is nothing in all this world as magnificent as virtue. It glows without tarnish. It is precious and beautiful. It is above price. It cannot be bought or sold. It is the fruit of self-mastery.
As young women, you spend a lot of time thinking of the boys. You can have a good time with them, but never overstep the line of virtue. Any young man who invites or encourages you or demands that you indulge in any kind of sexual behavior is unworthy of your company. Get him out of your life before both yours and his are blighted. If you can thus discipline yourselves, you will be grateful for as long as you live. Most of you will marry, and your marriage will be much the happier for your earlier restraint. You will be worthy to go to the house of the Lord. There is no adequate substitute for this marvelous blessing. The Lord has given a wonderful mandate. He has said, “Let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly” (D&C 121:45). This becomes a commandment to be observed with diligence and discipline. And there is attached to it the promise of marvelous and wonderful blessings. “Then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God. … The Holy Ghost shall be thy constant companion, and thy scepter an unchanging scepter of righteousness and truth; and thy dominion shall be an everlasting dominion, and without compulsory means it shall flow unto thee forever and ever” (D&C 121:45–46).
Could there be a greater or more beautiful promise than this?
Find purpose in your life. Choose the things you would like to do, and educate yourselves to be effective in their pursuit. For most it is very difficult to settle on a vocation. In this day and time, a girl needs an education. She needs the means and skills by which to earn a living should she find herself in a situation where it becomes necessary to do so.
Study your options. Pray to the Lord earnestly for direction. Then pursue your course with resolution.
There is not anything that you cannot do if you will set your mind to it. You can include in the dream of the woman you would like to be a picture of one qualified to serve society and make a significant contribution to the world of which she will be a part. For you, the sky is the limit. You can be excellent in every way. You can be first class. Respect yourself. Do not feel sorry for yourself. Do not dwell on unkind things others may say about you. Particularly, pay no attention to what some boy might say to demean you. Polish and refine whatever talents the Lord has given you. Go forward in life with a twinkle in your eye and a smile on your face, but with great and strong purpose in your heart. Love life and look for its opportunities, and forever and always be loyal to the Church.
Never forget that you came to earth as a child of the divine Father, with something of divinity in your very makeup. The Lord did not send you here to fail. He did not give you life to waste it. He bestowed upon you the gift of mortality that you might gain experience—positive, wonderful, purposeful experience—that will lead to life eternal. He has given you this glorious Church, His Church, to guide you and direct you, to give you opportunity for growth and experience, to teach you and lead you and encourage you, to bless you with eternal marriage, to seal upon you a covenant between you and Him that will make of you His chosen daughter, one upon whom He may look with love and with a desire to help. May God bless you richly and abundantly, His wonderful daughters.