How I love Ardeth Kapp and Jayne Malan and the recently released board members. And what a wonderful feeling came over me when President Monson called to tell me that my counselors had been called. He said, “You shouldn’t be alone.” And then he quickly added, “You are not alone.”
I have a testimony of those words and what comfort they give. Four years ago, when I found myself quite suddenly a widow and the youngest of my five children leaving for a mission, I felt alone. I did a lot of walking at that time, and one day I told a neighbor I found myself thinking about youth. She said, “Really? I wonder why?” I concluded that perhaps I was trying to remember who I was before I was married. I said, “If I ever have a chance to work with young people again, I will be so much more patient, so much more gentle, and so much more loving.” And I have since added, “I will do all in my power to encourage young people to prepare for the future.”
There are times when we are growing up when we feel alone or left out. Times of change are growing-up times: things like moving, changing schools, going on a mission, having a baby, having your baby go on a mission, a serious illness, losing someone you love. I believe that there are some things that help in these growing-up times so we don’t feel so alone. Spend more time talking to Heavenly Father and reading the scriptures. Listen to the still, small voice. In the words of a young woman of Beehive age: “At first when I would say my prayers and read scriptures, I would never get a good feeling about it. But after about two months of my scriptures and prayer, I began to feel very happy, and I loved my family, and I felt like being nice to everyone.”
When the prophet Enos listened to the words of the Lord, he began to feel a desire for the welfare of others. (See Enos 1:9.) When we start to think of others, we feel less alone.
Another thing that helps is to build a support system. As a president needs counselors, we all need caring and interested family and friends. A father said to his daughter: “Somebody does care about you. It may not always be the people you want to have caring about you, but there is always someone who is there and who cares. In fact, you probably already know who they are because they are the ones you have always been able to count on. That won’t change.” (Joseph Walker, “ValueSpeak,” Chicago Tribune, 3 June 1991.) We need people who care. “Thy friends do stand by thee, and they shall hail thee again with warm hearts and friendly hands.” (D&C 121:9.)
Growing up does not take place without a work effort. Not long ago, my youngest daughter came home and said her bishop had asked her to be a Sunday School teacher. She said, “I just don’t feel like a Sunday School teacher.” I said, “You aren’t yet, Mary, but you will be.” Growing up involves developing our potential. Heavenly Father is counting on each one of us. Confidence will grow quietly from within as we work and gain experience.
Sometimes we make the mistake of feeling we are alone just because we are not getting recognition. Only a small part of what we do takes place in a public setting. The rest takes place in small and often unseen deeds. When you add the small deeds together, however, they are a thousand times greater than those receiving public recognition. Albert Schweitzer said that when you compare the public deeds to the small, private ones they are “like the foam on the waves of a deep ocean.” (Albert Schweitzer, Out of My Life and Thought, New York: H. Holt, 1949, p. 90.) This is a good thing to remember when growing up.
To every young woman of the Church, in your growing up years you are not alone. I want you to know how much I love you. Do you have any idea how much you are thought about, talked about, prayed about, and loved by your parents and leaders? Learn to work and develop your abilities. Consider the needs of others and give loving service. Support one another as you stand for truth and righteousness. Our Heavenly Father loves you. He understands your challenges. He knows you were prepared before you were born for this time. I have complete faith in the words of our prophet, who said, “You have been born at this time for a sacred and glorious purpose.” (Ezra Taft Benson, “To the Young Women of the Church,” General Women’s Meeting, 28 Sept. 1986.)
Now, to every adult member of the Church, may I suggest that you learn the names of the young people in your ward or branch and call them by name. Encourage them in their work efforts. Recognize them for the good things they do. They need our support, and we need theirs. Probably the hardest thing about growing up is that you have to keep doing it. But we are not alone. I bear testimony and express gratitude for this knowledge, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.