9/11/2011. Tonight is a significant night for those who will go forth to carry the banner of Jesus Christ to the world in the latter days. It will be no easy job.
I wish to begin by quoting Sister Margaret Nadauld and applying her words to both men and women: “The world has enough [men and] women who are tough; we need [men and] women who are tender. There are enough [of us] who are coarse; we need [men and] women who are kind. There are enough [men and] women who are rude; we need [men and] women who are refined. We have enough [men and] women of fame and fortune; we need more [men and] women of faith. We have enough greed; we need more goodness. We have enough vanity; we need more virtue. We have enough popularity; we need more purity.”1 And I would add, you are the people who will supply these virtues to a world that is very much in need.
Because I married at 53, I sometimes consider myself the poster child for single adults. I was a participant in the young single adult program, the single adult program, and the older single adult program. You are especially precious to me because I have walked some of the paths you walk, faced some of the concerns you face, and I have enormous empathy and respect for you.
My purpose this evening is to testify to you of truths I learned during the period of my singlehood that I believe are eternal truths—eternal truths that will protect you from discouragement and possible individual apostasy and remind you of your obligations to our Heavenly Father.
Truth number one: The Lord loves us, He answers prayers, and, most importantly, He delights in blessing those who keep His commandments—but He does so in His own time and His own way. The Lord is bound to keep His promises to us. We all have a divine origin. On earth we were born into families, and if we keep the commandments we will return to live as eternal families. To achieve this goal we need to always remember Jesus Christ and keep His commandments. Every day is important to you because the way you choose to spend your time will determine the person you become. Be the best you can be. I also advise you, from experience, to worry less about marriage than about becoming a disciple of Christ. Your light will attract others to you because light attracts light, and the blessings Heavenly Father has for you will be more wonderful than you can imagine. Relish this time, the opportunity to grow and learn of your religion, so that you can live “after the manner of happiness” (2 Nephi 5:27; see also Alma 50:23), as did the Nephites, and become a covenant people. The more we invest ourselves in the scriptures, the stronger protection we receive from temptation, pornography, and evil. The more we attend church and the temple and serve in our callings, the stronger we become and the happier our lives become.
Truth number two: We are not saved in isolation. This life is not just about me. We are placed on earth to bless the lives of those around us, to act as agents of righteousness, and, as Elder Oaks will instruct us, to “be anxiously engaged in a good cause” (D&C 58:27) to promote the betterment of all around us.
As a missionary who served in Sendai, Japan, I wish to share a brief story about their recent disaster. A Japanese sister driving in her car felt the earthquake, had her car engulfed by water from the tsunami, and with quick thinking, an open car window, and knowledge of the terrain, she leapt from her car and began her hike to safety. Her first thoughts were, “Save yourself, and hurry.”
Struggling to safety, she glanced over to see another car with locked windows, sealed tight by the water pressure. Inside she could see small children and a grandmother who would surely drown because they could not escape. Her natural instincts told her to keep running if she wished to survive. There was no time; she had to save herself. Then a voice filled her mind, saying, “You are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” She looked back at the car and remembered who she was and what she should do. She reacted quickly, grabbing a nearby floating desk, smashing the window of the car, pulling the little family to safety, and then helping them find shelter before she made her way home.
Brothers and sisters, we are surrounded by a perilous tsunami—not one of rushing, murderous water, but one as dangerous and lethal. We live in a society swarming with false teachings, worldly ideas, and moral degradation. We have been taught the truth, and we are under covenant. It is our time to be valiant. In Mosiah 4:10 we are instructed it is not enough just to believe in truth, we must act on it to help those in our communities and neighborhoods and among our friends and family—both of our faith and not of our faith. The words of King Benjamin admonish us, “If you believe all these things see that ye do them” (Mosiah 4:10).
I testify as a convert to this Church that, often unbeknownst to us, we are surrounded by those who are hungry to hear the truths of the gospel—as I was—and that the words you speak will be sweet to them whom you are given to instruct and that your words have the capacity to bless and change lives.
Truth number three: Our responsibility is to become the best disciples of Christ we can become. On one occasion, full of worry and frustration about my single situation and my advancing years, I went to a priesthood leader for a blessing to strengthen me. The words spoken in that blessing stay with me to this day and ring truer to me as time passes. I can still quote them: “If you cannot bear the difficulties and challenges of single life, you will never be able to bear the difficulties and challenges of married life.” I sat a bit stunned. Those words were a call to action for me to make my life wonderful regardless of any situation or difficulty I faced. If I made a happy single life for myself, it would determine the happiness I would have as a married woman, and I wanted a happy future. I realized I had the capacity not only to bear difficult things but to look for the best in every situation. My attitude became much more positive. Life is a challenge, but it will always be a challenge—single or married—and I wanted to be equal to that challenge. I testify from hard-earned experience that the Lord is always preparing us for greater happiness and blessings. We need only try our best and trust in Him with all our hearts.
Truth number four: Learn to recognize the whisperings of the Holy Ghost in your life. The Holy Ghost speaks with a “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12; 1 Nephi 17:45; D&C 85:6), a whisper that the traditions and loud distractions of the world can easily muffle or even extinguish. As members of the true Church, you have unique demands and expectations.
The choice of devoted Latter-day Saints is not just to simply go forward and try to be happy and create a fulfilling life. As men and women of covenant, our goal is to go forward and develop strong testimonies and nurturing and caring hearts that will prepare us for our roles as parents in the eternities. With that end in mind, I speak also of some of the pitfalls and possible stumbling blocks ahead.
For the sisters: I know the frustration many of you face because you wish to become wives and mothers. I say to you, do not allow your wait for those blessings to burden you. Never become angry or bitter that you do not have your blessings in the time you wish. I wasted many hours worrying. Never waste one minute of this precious life. Prepare for the future. Go forward. Get educations, and prepare for an occupation or profession to support yourself and a future family.
I also give a word of caution. In my day only 6 percent of the women did not marry, and it was unusual for a woman to get advanced degrees and enter the workforce. It is very different now. A much larger percentage of you will not marry during college and may get advanced degrees and have marvelous career opportunities. Some of you will remain single, but often I hear of young women who wish to fulfill themselves in the workforce first and only later proceed to become a wife and mother.
I am speaking personally here. From my own experience as a woman who has a doctorate and had a marvelous career traveling the world, I can sincerely say that no matter how exciting or fulfilling a career, you should never sabotage your eternal happiness by sacrificing marriage for a job opportunity. If true love comes at a seemingly inopportune time, look to the long-term consequences, and call on the Holy Ghost for guidance. Marriage and motherhood can be as fulfilling and wonderful as you choose to make them. The Lord will provide a way for you to balance your ambitions with the blessings of marriage. Worldly honors and corporate success offer small compensation when compared with the joyous affection of family and children.
On the other hand, I say to those of you who may lead a single life: depend on the Lord, enjoy every opportunity, and delight in the life you have. Women were born to nurture, and we are surrounded by opportunities to do so—in our Church callings, families, neighborhoods, and communities. Relish those opportunities.
To the men: We live in a world that teaches that education and financial security should precede marriage. The Lord teaches otherwise. In the interim before marriage, I also see many of you enjoying travel, video games, boys’ night out, and free meals. Men, the sisters need you to be the most valiant you can be. This is true, and I want you to listen: In the Lord’s plan, those of you who marry will progress to a degree that you never imagined. That is a promise.
Truth number five: All singles should remain active members of the Church. In a family-centered Church you may sometimes doubt you have a place—nothing could be further from the truth. Every individual counts. Never forget the plan of salvation is in full effect for everyone, single or married. You do not stand alone. To quote Sister Julie Beck, “We did not fight a war in heaven to be single eternally. We did not sign up for only part of the program. We signed up for the whole plan—to make covenants, to be sealed eternally and have posterity in the eternities. We do not abandon true principles while we are waiting for our blessings.”2
Brothers and sisters, we are not waiting alone. The Lord is aware of us. He knows each one of us individually. He not only hears our prayers, He knows our anguish, our fears, our trials, our triumphs—He is beside us. We need only call on Him, and He will be with us.
Having faith doesn’t mean you will be filled with joy and conviction every moment. Having faith means you keep persisting and believing that the blessing and comfort lie ahead—and I testify to you they do. The Lord desires that we draw near to Him, and in His own time and His own way He will draw near to us.
The Lord loves you so much that He has sent an Apostle of the Lord to address you tonight. I ask you to pray for Elder Oaks. Pray that you will understand his words and that you will remember them and realize that we have entered a new era, an era where our Heavenly Father is depending on each of us to know what we believe, to stand for what we believe, and to act in behalf of those things we consider sacred.
I love you. I know that we are members of the true Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and I say this in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.