The Savior revealed the perfect priorities for our lives, our homes, our wards, our communities, and our nations when He spoke of love as the great commandment upon which “hang all the law and the prophets.” We can spend our days obsessing about the finest details of life, the law, and long lists of things to do; but should we neglect the great commandments, we are missing the point and we are clouds without water, drifting in the winds, and trees without fruit.
Without this love for God the Father and our fellowmen we are only the form of His Church—without the substance. What good is our teaching without love? What good is missionary, temple, or welfare work without love?
Love is what inspired our Heavenly Father to create our spirits; it is what led our Savior to the Garden of Gethsemane to make Himself a ransom for our sins. Love is the grand motive of the plan of salvation; it is the source of happiness, the ever-renewing spring of healing, the precious fountain of hope.
As we extend our hands and hearts toward others in Christlike love, something wonderful happens to us. Our own spirits become healed, more refined, and stronger. We become happier, more peaceful, and more receptive to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit.
Sisters, young sisters, beloved young sisters, stay true to what you know is right. Everywhere you look today, you will find promises of happiness. Ads in magazines promise total bliss if you will only buy a certain outfit, shampoo, or makeup. Certain media productions glamorize those who embrace evil or who give in to base instincts. Often these same people are portrayed as models of success and accomplishment.
In a world where evil is portrayed as good and good as evil, sometimes it is difficult to know the truth. In some ways it is almost like Little Red Riding Hood’s dilemma: when you are not quite sure what you are seeing, is it a beloved grandmother or is it a dangerous wolf?
I spent many years in the cockpit of an airplane. My task was to get a big jet safely from any part of the world to our desired destination. I knew with certainty that if I wanted to travel from New York to Rome, I needed to fly east. If some were to tell me that I should fly south, I knew there was no truth in their words. I would not trust them because I knew for myself. No amount of persuasion, no amount of flattery, bribery, or threats could convince me that flying south would get me to my destination because I knew.
We all search for happiness, and we all try to find our own “happily ever after.” The truth is, God knows how to get there! And He has created a map for you; He knows the way. He is your beloved Heavenly Father, who seeks your good, your happiness. He desires with all the love of a perfect and pure Father that you reach your supernal destination. The map is available to all. It gives explicit directions of what to do and where to go to everyone who is striving to come unto Christ and “stand as [a witness] of God at all times and in all things, and in all places.” All you have to do is trust your Heavenly Father. Trust Him enough to follow His plan.
Nevertheless, not all will follow the map. They may look at it. They may think it is reasonable, perhaps even true. But they do not follow the divine directions. Many believe that any road will take them to a “happily ever after.” Some may even become angry when others who know the way try to help and tell them. They suppose that such advice is outdated, irrelevant, out of touch with modern life.
Sisters, they suppose wrong.
The exaltation and happiness of any community, goes hand in hand with the knowledge possessed by the people, when applied to laudable ends;
whereupon we can exclaim like the wise man; righteousness exalteth a nation; for righteousness embraces knowledge and knowledge is power.
We are living in such sweetness that if kings knew about it, they would fight us over it with their swords.
This world is nothing but temporary convenience, and the greatest joy in this world is a righteous woman.
A hope and promise of happiness is hard to grasp in a moment of sadness. It can exist in the head but struggle to soothe the heart.
One’s life … cannot be both faith-filled and stress-free. …
Therefore, how can you and I really expect to glide naively through life, as if to say, ‘Lord, give me experience, but not grief, not sorrow, not pain, not opposition, not betrayal, and certainly not to be forsaken. Keep from me, Lord, all those experiences which made Thee what Thou art! Then let me come and dwell with Thee and fully share Thy joy!’ …
Real faith … is required to endure this necessary but painful developmental process.
There are two basic principles that helped these young men become like the sons of Helaman. Even though the boys’ mothers were not members of the Church and did not understand the words of the Lord, priesthood leaders became like their fathers, and leaders’ wives became like their mothers.
These nine boys—I call them the “Boys of the Lord”—learned that they would be blessed when they listened to the Church leaders, even though they didn’t always understand why. They became like Adam, our first father, who when he made an offering to the Lord was asked by an angel, “Why dost thou offer sacrifices unto the Lord? And Adam said unto him: I know not, save the Lord commanded me.” They became anxious to be obedient and to serve the Lord with their whole hearts.
They also learned that attending their Church meetings was very important. President Ezra Taft Benson said in his speech entitled “To the ‘Youth of the Noble Birthright’ ”: “May I now direct your attention to the importance of attending all of your Church meetings. Faithful attendance at Church meetings brings blessings you can receive in no other way.” As they attended their Church meetings regularly, the boys felt the great love of the Lord and learned how to apply the doctrines and principles of the Church in their own daily lives. They also learned how to participate in meetings with great joy and happiness.
Man’s greatest happiness comes from losing himself for the good of others.
But Shakespeare was wrong—“To be, or not to be” is not the question at all. There are other options beyond that simple contradiction. For my taste, I’d have Hamlet turn to the audience and say: “Knowing that I am a child of God, what need I do and be to live up to this potential? That is the question.” Now, I understand that such an edit would hopelessly ruin one of the greatest literary masterpieces of all time. Nevertheless, if I were writing a script for you, that is how I would word it.
Think of where you came from. You are sons and daughters of the greatest, most glorious being in the universe. He loves you with an infinite love. He wants the best for you. Do you think our Father in Heaven wants you to feel depressed and sad? He wants no such thing. He has provided the commandments, which are the royal road to a life of purpose, peace, and joy. All we need to do is follow it. Knowing and living God’s commandments really do lead to fulfillment and to joy.
Our destiny is greater than we can imagine. If only we understood who we are and what is in store for us, our hearts would overflow with such gratitude and happiness that it would enlighten even the darkest sorrows with the light and love of God, our Heavenly Father. The next time you feel unhappy, remember where you came from and where you are going. Rather than focus on things that dampen your thoughts with sorrow, choose to focus on those things that fill your soul with hope. You will realize that these things are always connected to serving God and our fellowmen. Remember that the Lord has given you His word in the scriptures. Pray earnestly to Him; talk with Him daily. Learn of Him, and walk in His way. Serve God and serve your fellowmen.
Remember that there is “a time to weep” but also “a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4). If your heart has been heavy for a while, perhaps it is time to allow the light of the Son of God into your heart. I plead with you—just look into the water and see your true reflection! Realize the purpose for which you were created! Lift your face toward the far horizon!