Thank you to the choir for that beautiful hymn in praise of our Creator.
It is an absolute delight and privilege to be with you for this devotional. We relish any opportunity to be with the young adults of the Church. We just love you! How thrilling to be active participants with you in such a vibrant period in the ongoing restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Young or old, we all enjoy a good fairytale, especially when it’s a love story. I have to say that our love story was a beautiful and totally unexpected fairytale. I grew up in California; my husband in England and Saudi Arabia. I was raised in the Church from birth; my husband was a convert to the Church in his mid-20s. We were brought together from two separate continents in the great city of London. He had been a member of the Church for two years and was attending the young single adult ward in London, when I arrived there to spend six months studying art history and English literature. I never intended, or expected, to fall head over heels in love while studying in the U.K., but life can take some very unpredictable—and magnificent—turns.
I am so grateful the Lord led us to one another. We married in the Oakland California Temple, and I moved straight back to England where we lived for the next 19 years, until the time of my husband’s call as a General Authority in 2010.
We have been blessed with four children. We lost our eldest child, a son, in heart surgery when he was 19 days old. His heart defect was discovered during my pregnancy, and our fierce and steadfast fight for his short life taught us of miracles, God’s will, and the intimate, personal reality of the Atonement and Resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Our sweet son was followed by our three precious daughters, whom we adore, respect, and learn from every day. They are treasures to us. With uncommon faith, they have willingly moved—all through their teenage years—from their home in England to Utah, to Germany, and now back again to Utah, as their father has been assigned to serve in various capacities in the Church.
Your Infinite Worth and God’s Infinite Love
Now, are there things you really didn’t like as a child that you love now as an adult? How about nap time? I bet you never wanted to take naps when you were a child. I didn’t! But now the chance to get a little extra sleep is a luxury! I love nap time. OK, what about broccoli or some other food that you just didn’t like as a child? Well, do you like it now?
Regardless of how you feel about naps or broccoli, there are things you didn’t like as a child—plenty of them—that you still don’t like as an adult. We never liked falling down and skinning our knees. We never liked trying out for a sports team and not making it. We never liked being picked on, made fun of, left out, or deliberately hurt by someone else. And we still don’t.
I remember in primary school that I was fairly successful academically in the classroom, but I was a dancer, and a total failure out on the sports field. I could pirouette, but I couldn’t pass—or shoot, or throw, or kick, or catch, or swing. Some kids would call me names and make fun of my skinny arms. I did have skinny arms, it is true, but it still hurt! I distinctly remember that if we were ever choosing our own teams for some kind of academic competition, I was chosen by my peers somewhere near the top-ish. But if we were ever choosing teams for an athletic competition, I was always chosen dead last. It felt terrible!
Now, why do I share any of this with you, several decades after the fact? Because, as you can see, that kind of stuff sticks with us. We remember how it felt to be rejected or not wanted or disapproved of by our peers, and perhaps, tragically, by our own family members. And that doesn’t change just because we grow up and become adults. You may have felt this way just yesterday. Peers, parents, siblings, spouses, teachers, work colleagues, friends—they can all say and do things that hurt deeply. Often it’s unintentional. But sometimes it can be very deliberate. And occasionally we retaliate.
Learning to find, feel, and understand our individual worth regardless of what other people might think or say about us is critical to our lifelong emotional and spiritual wellbeing. When we permit others’ words, actions, or opinions of us dictate how we feel about ourselves, we become fragile victims, never knowing when someone’s approval of us will turn to disdain.
Likewise, if we base our worth solely on our achievements, our performance, or our visible perceived gifts, we set ourselves up for failure and disappointment as soon as we don’t measure up and come out on top.
You know this, but those of you who struggle with it need to hear it often and be reassured of your infinite worth, which is entirely unconnected to your attainments but intrinsically linked to your relationship with God. What does infinite mean? Unlimited, boundless, without end. Each of you is of unlimited, boundless, endless worth. To whom? To the person who metaphorically calls you names on the playground? No. You are of unlimited, boundless, endless worth to your Father in Heaven, the One who knows you best, no matter what anyone else might think or say about you. Just let the beauty and stillness of that truth weigh on your soul for a moment. You are “precious in [His] sight.”1
When someone hurts you, or you experience a failure of some kind, come to where you are never rejected and never ridiculed. Your Father in Heaven loves you, whoever you are, whatever you are struggling with. You are enough. You are enough. He loves you just the way you are, right here, right now, in all your beautiful messiness. But He also loves you enough not to let you stay the way you are right here, right now. He has much bigger plans for you! You are “heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ,”2 and so you must continue to learn to keep the commandments, make mistakes, grow, struggle, and change, until you reach your divine potential, refined and purified—and some eternal day perfected—through the grace of Christ.3
If we laid out the design for our own lives, we would likely plan for ourselves a life of happiness, success, and relative ease, perhaps with a smattering of mild difficulties that we could overcome without too much effort. Who wants to experience failure, struggle, or any kind of loss or suffering? Who wants to do hard things? If we lived the life we wanted to live, we would always be accepted to our top choice university or graduate school, get the dream job, and marry our perfect soulmate with whom we would never have an argument. We would never have to wrestle with a church calling, all our loved ones would remain heart-and-soul converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ, and anyone we shared our faith with would be baptized within the week. Our mothers wouldn’t get cancer, our fathers wouldn’t leave, and our siblings wouldn’t die young in tragic accidents. We wouldn’t lose babies in heart surgery, and we would never have to wait on the Lord’s timing. You get the picture. But we also wouldn’t develop any meaningful degree of patience, compassion, humility, longsuffering, loving-kindness, endurance, discipline, selflessness, or faith, hope, and charity. We would return to our Father in Heaven in just about the same state we were in when we left His presence, because we wouldn’t have experienced anything that required change or growth or our complete and utter dependence on God.
But we’re not living self-designed lives of ease. We are living the lives God has planned for our maximum joy and progression. So rest assured that the infinite and gentle love of God will invite you to make changes in your life through the experiences that come your way, both the bitter and the sweet. But He will always invite change in a loving, encouraging, affirming way. Don’t listen to the voices in your head—that may have been there from your childhood—that tell you you can’t change, you aren’t good enough, and you will fail yet again. Listen only to the whisperings of the Holy Spirit and “the pleasing word of God … which healeth the wounded soul”4 that confirm your infinite worth and God’s loving reassurance that you can do it.
When you are exhausted with life and feeling like you cannot see any good coming from all your efforts to live righteously, don’t give up. Don’t compromise your dreams and goals. Increase your faith that it is always worth waiting for the Lord’s timing.
And when awful, painful, tragic things do happen in your life, and you truly do not know how you will survive the path through your own personal Gethsemane, remember that Christ, the Anointed One, has already borne your griefs and carried your sorrows.5 He has been bruised for your iniquities, and with His stripes you are healed.6 He knows, intimately and personally, the pain you bear. He is the Firstborn of the Father, and He has first borne your suffering in its entirety, be it mental, physical, emotional, or spiritual. Never doubt His promises of hope and healing. You have been created for a joyful, abundant existence. Your worth is infinite, and so is God’s love for you.
I am excited for you to hear from my husband. I want you to know—relevant to your age and stage of life, as you are dating and marrying—that this man I love deeply has been unfailingly kind to me for 27 years of marriage. He has never once, not once, made me feel small or unloved, and he has never made a joke at my expense. I hope you can learn from that.
I wish to express my living faith in the Living Christ, who truly “is the light, the life, and the hope of the world. His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.”7 This is His church led by His prophet.
In the sacred, saving name of Jesus Christ, amen.
© 2018 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. English approval: 2/18. English. PD60005945 000