"Perfection does not come in this life, but we exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and keep our covenants. President Monson has promised, “Your testimony, when constantly nourished, will keep you safe.” We push our spiritual roots deep, feasting daily on the words of Christ in the scriptures. We trust in the words of living prophets, placed before us to show us the way. We pray and pray and listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Ghost that leads us along and speaks peace to our soul. Whatever challenges arise, we never, never leave Him."
This day I have been walking through the most splendid part of the city of New York. The buildings are truly great and wonderful, to the astonishing of every beholder. … After beholding all that I had any desire to behold, I returned to my room to meditate and calm my mind; and behold, the thoughts of home, of Emma and Julia, rush upon my mind like a flood and I could wish for a moment to be with them. My breast is filled with all the feelings and tenderness of a parent and a husband, and could I be with you I would tell you many things. …
“I feel as if I wanted to say something to you to comfort you in your peculiar trial and present affliction [Emma was pregnant at the time]. I hope God will give you strength that you may not faint. I pray God to soften the hearts of those around you to be kind to you and take the burden off your shoulders as much as possible and not afflict you. I feel for you, for I know your state and that others do not, but you must comfort yourself knowing that God is your friend in heaven and that you have one true and living friend on earth, your husband.
Seek to know God in your closets, call upon him in the fields. Follow the directions of the Book of Mormon, and pray over, and for your families, your cattle, your flocks, your herds, your corn, and all things that you possess; ask the blessing of God upon all your labors, and everything that you engage in.
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!
If any of us are imperfect, it is our duty to pray for the gift that will make us perfect. Have I imperfections? I am full of them. What is my duty? To pray to God to give me the gifts that will correct these imperfections. If I am an angry man, it is my duty to pray for charity, which suffereth long and is kind. Am I an envious man? It is my duty to seek for charity, which envieth not. So with all the gifts of the Gospel. They are intended for this purpose. No man ought to say, ‘Oh, I cannot help this; it is my nature.’ He is not justified in it, for the reason that God has promised to give strength to correct these things, and to give gifts that will eradicate them.
We are experiencing a serious economic downturn. You read of thousands of layoffs. This may be a difficult season for you. You worry much about your personal affairs. You worry about money. You worry about marriage. You worry about the future.
There may be some lean days ahead for some of you. There may be troubles. None of us can avoid them all. Do not despair. Do not give up. Look for the sunlight through the clouds. Opportunities will eventually open to you. I finished the University of Utah in 1932. It was the very bottom of the most serious depression of modern times. The unemployment rate in Utah was then more than 30 percent. There was much of cynicism. It was a time when men stood in soup lines, and some committed suicide in despair. But somehow we managed to eat and keep going. Opportunities gradually opened, first here and then there. In 1982, I spoke at the fiftieth anniversary of my graduating class. I met there men and women who had become prominent in many undertakings. They had begun almost in poverty. But they kept climbing upward. They had become leaders. They had looked for the positive in life, praying with faith and working with diligence.
We discovered that an individual would know the Church was true only to the degree he or she was true to the Church. By being true to the Church, there seemed to be an unlocking from within of a divine sense of a testimony - a conviction that came from obedience.
Once we learned this transcendentally vital lession, we stopped trying to convince people by persuasion, reason, and the use of scripture alone, for this approach stirred up their self doubts. Instead, we encouraged investigators to obey, to change, to repent, to pray, to live a commitment, to attend church, to study the Book of Mormon. This approach, when followed, minimized self-doubt.
What does all this mean to you and me as individuals? It means that God, as our Father, made all these arrangements for you and me. We were part of his eternal scheme. And so it is not enough merely to observe these various anniversaries, but we must recommit and rededicate ourselves to uphold the convictions and the principles upon which the blessings we enjoy are predicated. We too must be prepared to sacrifice, where necessary, to keep our freedoms inviolate. My father used to say: “The true way to honor the past is to improve upon it.”
Therefore, we should love God more. We should serve our fellowmen better. We should keep all the commandments. We should be better prepared as parents to teach our children to pray and to walk uprightly before the Lord, and to assume their responsibilities. It would be tragic if for fear of the challenge involved the descendants of those who gave so liberally and sacrificed so much shrank from the duties of their day and time.
The whole gamut of human endeavor is now open to women. 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.
What will be the language the Lord will use? Through the Prophet Joseph Smith, the Lord counseled Oliver Cowdery, who wondered about an answer to his prayers:
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, if you desire a further witness, cast your mind upon the night that you cried unto me in your heart, that you might know concerning the truth of these things.
“Did I not speak peace to your mind concerning the matter? What greater witness can you have than from God?” (D&C 6:22–23.)