This is an overwhelming sight. And I would like you to know, my dear brothers and sisters, President Holland, President Vernon, President Gardner, and all of you, how much I have enjoyed the music and how pleased and honored I am to participate in this 14-stake fireside tonight, because I want to tell you what an exciting and challenging time it is in the history of Relief Society. It is a time of great growth, great expectations, and great needs. The sisterhood of Relief Society must be strengthened and unified now just as much as during the administration of any of the wise Relief Society presidents of the past.
Relief Society has reached its present position of status and influence under the inspiration and guidance of the prophets and apostles, and it is a great blessing to the women of the Church worldwide. Relief Society must stand as a bulwark and a fortress against the penetration of the extreme viewpoints regarding women that have become political and social issues. It must develop in each woman an understanding of not only her magnificent potential, her irreplaceable contributions, and her eternal destiny, but those of each man as well.
Zina D. H. Young and Silkworms
Problems are not unique to our times. Look at the life of President Zina D. H. Young, the third general president of the Relief Society. She was bright, observant, and deeply religious. Even so she suffered sickness, trials, tribulations, and sorrows. She witnessed the burning of the homes of the Saints in Nauvoo before the exodus. Her father and mother both died as the result of persecutions against the Mormons. She had two children by her first marriage. Then, later, she married Brigham Young and raised four of his children along with her two and one daughter born to them.
President Brigham Young gave Zina the mission of establishing the silk culture in the territory of Deseret. The silkworms were extremely repugnant to her, but in spite of that she successfully completed that assignment. Her love of the Lord and her determination to follow the direction given by the prophet made it possible for her to do what she was asked to do, and I am sure that she had to develop some special strengths in order to be able to do it. I can’t tell you how grateful I am that I don’t have to handle silkworms—just Phil Donahue.
Parable of Caterpillars
Last week a beautiful young woman sent me a book entitled Hope for the Flowers (Trina Paulus [Paramus, N. J.: Paulist Press, 1972]). As I read it, I thought, “It’s too bad that Sister Zina didn’t have this book. It might have given her some new insights about worms.” Let me share its message with you.
It tells of a tiny striped caterpillar and how he joined a pile of other squirming, pushing caterpillars who were trying to get to the top of the pile. It was only when he talked to a certain yellow caterpillar that the two of them decided that getting on the top wasn’t really what they wanted most. So, they climbed down and away from the others. They enjoyed being together, and they ate and grew fat until one day they became bored, and they wanted to find out if there was more to life. The striped caterpillar decided to find out by climbing again to the top of the caterpillar pile. The yellow caterpillar felt ashamed that she didn’t agree but decided it was better to wait until she could take action she could believe in. So he climbed, and she wandered aimlessly until she saw a caterpillar hanging upside down on a branch and caught in some hairy substance. She said, “You seem to be in trouble. Can I help you?” “No,” said the hanging caterpillar, “I have to do this to become a butterfly.”
“Butterfly? What is a butterfly?”
“It’s what you are meant to be. It flies with beautiful wings and joins the earth to heaven. It drinks only nectar from the flowers and carries seeds of love from one flower to another. Without butterflies the world would soon have few flowers.”
The yellow caterpillar exclaimed, “It can’t be true! How can I believe there’s a butterfly inside you or me when all I see is a fuzzy worm? How does one become a butterfly?”
The hanging caterpillar said, “You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar.”
The yellow caterpillar began fearfully but continued the process until at length she became a butterfly. Then she helped the striped caterpillar learn who he was and leave the pile to become what he was really meant to be.
Development of Potential Powers
Like the caterpillars who will one day become butterflies, you have the magnificent potential to develop the powers within you and become greater than most of you dare dream. “God has . . . made us the custodians of some great powers,” said Sterling W. Sill (The Power of Believing [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1968], p. 6). You have the power and the capacity to perform so well that you can inherit all that our Father has if you begin the process and continue until you become what you are really meant to be.
Each individual is entitled to choose which path to walk and thereby determine the ultimate destiny of his or her life. Some of you might question so bold a statement: “That can’t be true. I want to be a great quarterback like Jim McMahon or a miraculous receiver like Clay Brown, and I can’t do it, no matter how determined or diligent I am.”
It is not of such choices I speak. I speak of the destiny of your life and of the eternal truth that you can choose to use the powers within you to have a happy life of continual growth and development that leads to eternal progression or choose to follow the crowd of other people struggling to get to a top that is nowhere.
Tonight let’s consider just three of the great powers of which you are custodians. Perhaps then you can begin to understand the process necessary to become what you are really meant to be.
First, you have great physical powers. Look at you; notice your hands, your arms, your legs, your feet, your face, your eyes, your ears, your mouth, and your nose. You must admit that you are a magnificent creation when you realize how intricate these components are and what you can do because of them. If by any chance there is more of you than you would like to see, you can do something about it. And, if you do, it will make a great difference in how you feel about yourself.
Recently I was in Washington, D.C., where I met a woman in her thirties who has not yet married. She is stunning, tall, and full of enthusiasm. She is running an oil recycling business. This young woman told me about her recent campaign to lose weight. I think that she had taken off more than 40 pounds. “I can’t begin to tell you what it has done for me,” she said. “Having decided to reduce my weight and then having successfully done it have made it easier for me to relate to other people because I feel so good about myself. It is exciting.”
Her example serves to illustrate that physically you have the power to choose the options available to you. You who have five or ten or more pounds that you would like to lose can do so in different ways. You can take in fewer calories, or you may desire to put yourself on a consistent program of exercise, or both. The point is that you have the power to lose weight and thereby increase your capacity to do what you want to do.
I like the statement made by Bryant S. Hinckley, father of Elder Gordon B. Hinckley. He said:
When a man makes war on his own weaknesses he engages in the holiest war that mortals ever wage. The reward that comes from victory in this struggle is the most enduring, most satisfying, and the most exquisite that man ever experiences. . . . The power to do what we ought to do is the greatest freedom. [That Ye Might Have Joy (Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1958), p. 83]
I hope at some time you all will feel the reward of such a victory and that you will recognize the miracle of your mortal bodies in helping you to gain this newfound freedom.
“Think for a moment,” said B. H. Roberts,
what progress a man makes within the narrow limits of this life. Regard him as he lies in the lap of his mother . . . a new-born babe! There are eyes, indeed, that may see, but cannot distinguish objects; ears that may hear, but cannot distinguish sounds; hands as perfectly fashioned as yours and mine, but helpless withal; feet and limbs, but they are unable to bear the weight of his body, much less walk . . . and yet, within the short span of three score years and ten, by the marvelous working of the wondrous power within . . . what a change may be wrought! From that helpless babe may arise one like unto Demosthenes or Cicero, or Pitt, or Burke, or Fox, or Webster, . . . or from such a babe may come a Nebuchadnezzar, or an Alexander, or a Napoleon, who shall found empires or give direction to the course of history. [Mormon Doctrine of Diety (Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1903), pp. 33–34]
The miracle of the mortal body became apparent to me one afternoon when I was holding my first baby. It was a girl, and suddenly she seemed to stop breathing. I tried to force air into her lungs. I cried to the Lord in desperation, and after only a few seconds that seemed like an endless hour, she began to breathe normally again. The problem was diagnosed as an enlarged thymus gland that needed treatment. I shall never forget how grateful I was for the miracle of life and for the power of the body that I knew that day. I determined to do my very best to help her use her life as the Lord intended when he gave her to me to care for and love.
I know now the powers within these bodies, and I know they are powers not only to create life but to live it in such a way that mortality will be a happy and meaningful experience. When these miraculous systems malfunction—and maybe only then—we fully appreciate the complexity of the systems that give the body life. Only as we struggle to understand the body in order to treat the ailments it falls heir to in this life do we fully appreciate its remarkable nature and the intricate interrelationships which exist. The human body is most remarkable. It can walk, run, jump, climb, swim, ski, play, jog, and on and on, but not the least of these remarkable capabilities are its compensatory powers. We find these powers as we observe some of our friends and acquaintances—or even ourselves—who have birth defects, accidents, or illnesses that cause the functions we counted on to be lost so that other parts of the body have to substitute.
You’ll hear from Curt Brinkman during this week. You honored Curt at Homecoming last year because he had broken some records in the famous Boston Marathon. Curt was a good basketball player before his accident, but afterward he did not dwell on what his body could not do. When he had no legs, he trained his arms and built strength in them to compensate for his missing legs. He found another way to use the powers within him, and he became a champion.
I want you to know the full joy of your mortal body. The power is within you to do an infinite variety of things. It is like a never-ending kaleidoscope of experiences that are available to you regardless of your challenges or your problems. When one avenue of activity is denied by a physical impairment, there is still a rich variety of alternate choices available to you.
It is the masterful creation of our bodies that gives us these wonderful abilities because we are the literal offspring of our Heavenly Father. He, whose spirit children we are, organized these mortal bodies and provided us with a powerful instrument capable of vitalized mortal living. However, Elder LeGrand Richards cautions:
There are those who think their bodies are their own and that they can do with them what they will, but Paul makes it plain that they are not their own, for they are bought with a price, and that “if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy; for the temple of God is holy, which temple ye are.” [A Marvelous Work and A Wonder (Salt Lake City: Deseret Book, 1950), p. 380.]
You do have great physical powers within you to create life, to control your abilities and capacities, and to compensate for disabilities; and these physical powers require you to take good care of your bodies. At the very least you should obey the Word of Wisdom, eat properly, sleep and exercise regularly, and abstain from taking anything into your bodies that will destroy your powers, for you will be held accountable for them as you strive to become what you are really meant to be.
Now consider your mental powers. Think of your infinite capacity to learn, your ability to control your attitude toward learning, and your ability to adapt to and draw from the happenings each day. No mother can watch the progress of her child without being filled with wonder at his endless desire to learn. It is one of the joys of being a parent.
There are a hunger and a frustration that accompany the young child’s eagerness to grow and learn. You have all watched a child struggle to walk. Again and again he tries: up on his feet, down on the floor, bumps and hurts, cries of pain and frustration until at last he walks. At first he holds on to the offered hand for support, and then he pushes it away. A child must go through the process if he would grow and gain a sense of achievement.
This fundamental principle applies to you if real learning is to occur. Each of you must reach out for strength from others, then struggle and stretch to the limits of your own capacities to feel the ultimate sense of achievement.
With that realization look back over the centuries of our experience in mortality and see the great learning that has come to us from others. I mentioned my recent trip to Washington, D.C. While there I had the opportunity to visit the National Air and Space Museum. It is a huge structure, housing all the tangible machines of flight which are part of our national legacy. Within those walls are housed many dreams. The history of our conquest of the moon is documented there in countless projects and written records. It is just one of the tiny fragments of human inquiry which have yielded enormous amounts of knowledge.
In the earliest records of human desire to go to the moon are stories of drinking a magic potion and being wafted to the moon or harnessing giant birds that could pull a raft carrying a man to the moon. Some even thought about covering men with suction cups so that, as the dew would evaporate from the cups, the traveler could be lifted to the moon. Then came a reflection of our technological progress, the thought of gliding, and finally the realization that a person might be shot from a rocket to the moon.
More than 300 years ago the necessary principles of physics were beginning to be known, and Kepler declared that when we had developed the technology to build machines to go to the moon, men would come forward to ride those machines. They did, and the moon once whimsically described as being made of green cheese suddenly became a real place—barren, foreboding, made of rocks and boulders with no living thing on it.
In the process of conquering the distance to the moon, many things were discovered. As the hardware was developed to lift the rocket from the earth and hurl it through space, the first major discoveries with computers were made. From the roomful of equipment it took to do the first computer calculations developed our present pocket calculators.
Walk the corridors of this great university and look into the libraries and the laboratories, and you will find more projects designed to overcome the ignorance and the unknown than could have ever been dreamed about a few short years ago. Remember that knowledge builds upon knowledge. There is no end to the capacity of men and women to learn. The great vision of the gospel is that we grow in wisdom and in knowledge and in favor with God and man. You must put yourself to that task because you have the power.
When the Lord sent Adam and Eve out into the world from the Garden of Eden, he said to them, “Multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28). So here we are in the midst of the work of subduing the earth. There is only one way to subdue the earth. It is to learn enough to dispel ignorance and to gain enough wisdom that we might apply what we know for the benefit of all people.
There is most often an urgent desire for knowledge in us when we are young. I smiled at my young grandson, who, long before he went to school, used to take science books to his mother and say, “Read these to me.”
She would ask, “Don’t you want a storybook?”
He would reply, “No, mother, I don’t know anything about science, and I want to learn.”
At this great university you have unnumbered opportunities to learn. You can select courses, you can study in the library, you can attend concerts and plays and lectures. You can engage your friends and your professors and teachers in conversation. If you fill your time well, you will learn many great and important things at a pace you may never be able to sustain again in your lifetime.
There are no handicaps that cannot be overcome.
I was told that when J. Willard Marriott, the man for whom this great structure was named, returned home from his mission, he found that the cold of a very severe winter had killed most of his father’s flock of sheep. He asked his father to buy more sheep, but his father was very hesitant to make such a large investment again. He reminded Willard that he and his brothers would be in school and that there would be no one to stay home full time with the sheep. And so young Willard volunteered to stay home instead of going away to college. For two years he watched the sheep, but his desire for an education was so compelling that he registered for home study classes and while out in the field studied hard enough to complete his first two years of college.
Joseph Larsen, a fine stake president in Illinois, was injured while serving his country. The accident left him without the use of his legs, confined to a wheelchair. But he, with the help of his lovely wife, went on to finish his education, and he is now a dean at the University of Illinois. He is a spiritual giant among the brothers and sisters of his stake. The capacity to learn did no end when his ability to walk ended. He kept going.
A delightful sister, Ruth Knudson, took me on a tour through the National Gallery of Art. When her husband passed away, she decided that she would make good use of her time alone. She studied art history. It was so fascinating to her that she wanted to tell others about it, so she began conducting tours through the various galleries. Then she took a group abroad to study art. People began coming to her home and requesting private lessons or group instruction, whichever she would give. Now her life is rich and full as she continues to seek more learning about art in order to be filled enough to constantly teach others.
Continuing education is one of the gospel concepts for an enriched life. We can learn in so many ways. For example, one of my daughters was visiting with Sarah Boyer recently and observed that Sarah’s little girl had a new and attractive braid in her hair. My daughter remarked how lovely the little girl’s hair looked, and Sarah said that she would teach her how to do it. Sarah commented: “When I realize how many years of combing and setting hair I would have with five little girls, I thought I might as well learn all I could about caring for their hair, including a lot of different and charming hairstyles.” Isn’t that delightful? I wonder why I didn’t think of that. I had four daughters.
Another family from this area keeps their learning alive by acquiring things like telescopes, looms, greenhouses, and potter’s wheels, and they accompany each new piece of equipment with an intensive study so that they can master a new skill. Imagine how many happy, productive hours they spend together.
Classes are available; books are available; constant, never-ending media stimulation is available. All these things can work to our good if we desire to continue learning. Once I made the statement to President Kimball, after I returned home from Mexico, that I wish I could speak Spanish. His quick reply was, “Well, you can learn, can’t you?”
At first I thought, “Oh, no, not at my age, I can’t,” and then I realized that of course I could learn.
I haven’t learned it yet, but I know that I can. We all can come from the unknown to the known. We can develop skills, but we must remember that one of the significant tools for learning is our ability to control our own attitudes. Fortunately we have the power within us to control and establish our own attitudes. All the knowledge in the world will not help us if we resist learning. But there is no end to our capacity to learn if we apply ourselves diligently and eagerly to the task.
A slight change of attitude to a new point of view can open up a whole new world to you. I can remember descending into the Los Angeles airport one day. I was seated next to a landscape architect. I was thinking about the myriad of houses and buildings below us, and he looked across me and said, “Can you imagine how many sprinkler heads there are down there?” The landscape problems of a big city had never entered my mind before that, but occasionally I think about them now.
Perhaps the most important point I would like to discuss with you regarding your intellectual powers is the fact that you have the power to grow from your day-to-day experiences. At one time or another, you will all have the occasion to choose between a life of bitterness or a life of beauty. You have the power within you to make such a choice, and the Lord has promised that you can count on him for sufficient help to have an abundant life if you choose to live by the principles which lead to your personal growth and development.
Brother Marriott turned the circumstances which kept him from school into great personal discipline and a learning experience. President Larsen changed his life in a wheelchair to a life with sufficient optimism that he could stand tall in spirit and intellect even though his legs would no longer hold him. Sister Knudson accepted her situation and receives abundant satisfaction as she is sought out for her deep insights that bring happiness to herself and to others.
This great adaptive quality is part of the power within us that can shape our lives into contributions and excellence if we so choose. When we use our mental powers wisely, we can more easily become what we are really meant to be.
There is a third great power within you, the power for enormous spiritual growth—the infinite possibility for perfecting yourself. One way you can develop your spiritual power is by sharing the gospel because the gospel has the principles upon which all growth is predicated. Once we understand those concepts, we need opportunities both to teach them and to live them.
Another way to develop your spiritual power is to render acts of loving kindness and compassionate service. They are only of real value to you when they are given out of personal choice, not pressure. Albert Schweitzer wisely said, “The only ones who will ever be truly happy are those who have sought to serve.”
For example, my former bishop and his wife entered the Missionary Training Center this week to prepare for their mission to Nigeria. Their daughter also entered the MTC this week to prepare for her mission to Peru. This family is well aware of the conveniences and luxuries they will give up, but they are eager to serve the Lord by loving and serving his children. The Lord wants us to be mindful of each other and to be dependent upon each other, and so to one he has given a particular spiritual gift and to another a different gift so that we might bless each other.
Recently a visiting teacher helped prepare a blind sister to go for the first time to the Seattle Temple soon after its dedication. She did not assume the responsibility of the bishop but tried to explain each part of entering the temple for one’s endowment in such detail that the sightless woman could feel calm, peaceful, and spiritually in tune. Again, I mention Relief Society because it serves two fundamental purposes. It gives us a chance to be schooled in the art of sharing our talents and in giving loving service.
In the Doctrine and Covenants, we read:
I say unto you, that as many as receive me, to them will I give power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on my name. [D&C 11:30]
You may think, “That can’t be true! How can there be that great potential in you or me when all I see is a struggling, imperfect human being?” And I can only say, as did Lorenzo Snow, “Godliness cannot be conferred but must be acquired” (Truman Madsen, The Highest in Us [Bookcraft: 1978], p. 9)
You must want that blessing so much that you have faith in his word, resist worldly enticements, seek him in prayer, listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, and proclaim his gospel within the reach of your influence, and in the process you will help develop the spiritual powers within you.
The power is in you. From the Doctrine and Covenants again, we read:
Unto as many as received me gave I power to do many miracles, . . . power to obtain eternal life. [D&C 45:8]
Nurture your spiritual powers. It is the only way you can become what you are really meant to be.
Begin Where You Live
Where do you begin to develop your physical, mental, and spiritual powers? Begin in your home. Whether you are single or married, whether your home is an apartment, a house, or a dormitory, begin in your home. Your home is the place where you go each night, but it is more than that. Your home is the place where you grow in physical stature, in mental abilities, and in spiritual strengths. The scriptures clearly teach the importance of the home and the training that takes place there. Let’s consider for a moment Doctrine and Covenants, section 88, verse 119:
Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God.
I like to apply those words to establishing a house where gods-to-be can be taught and trained, where they can develop the habits and attitudes that will prepare them to live in a celestial home in the hereafter because they have learned how to pray and develop a sweet dependence upon the Lord, to fast and draw near unto him, to learn of him and his ways so that his purposes can be the direction of their lives. I feel that the phrase “prepare every needful thing” is very important. What is a needful thing? How would you describe every needful thing? Is it a needful thing to have a regular place designated to study in your home—a specific desk, a table, a favorite chair? Is a budget a needful thing? Is it a needful thing for you to learn how to pay your tuition and your rent and still have enough money for books, transportation, and entertainment? Is it a needful thing to have good food if you would increase your physical abilities and strengths? Is it a needful thing to have food prepared that is pleasing to look at—or just satisfying to the appetite?
Sometimes in our hurry to get everything done, fast foods have become the order of the day. We think of dinner at McDonald’s—at least I’m told that they feed more people in America than any other food service except the army. I think dinner at McDonald’s should be the exception rather than the rule unless, of course, your name happens to be McDonald. I hope that you will use the many resources available to you to help you supply your kitchen with good things to eat—nutritious snacks, super soups, and money-saving meals. Use the ideas that have proven successful to enrich your living.
Come with me vicariously into three homes. Let’s look in unobserved to see how these homes are organized to foster the powers within those who reside there. We’ll go first into the home of a young mother who is a concert pianist. She is preparing right now to play with the philharmonic orchestra of her state. She has a baby-sitter caring for her three little sons while she spends these last few days in uninterrupted practice. Ordinarily she would limit her practice time at the piano to the hours when the children are in bed, but she is well aware that a flawless performance demands hours and hours of highly concentrated preparation.
She loves music. She wants her children to love it too. Each mealtime is accompanied by classical recordings, opera, symphony, world-renowned vocalists, or choirs. She is following the pattern set by her own mother. As soon as the children are old enough, they will accompany their parents to special musical events in order to firmly establish great music as an important part of their lives. Perhaps we should take our leave now, but it is to be hoped that her example will give you a thought about how you might cultivate learning by planning a time, a place, and a way to make the learning you desire possible.
We’ll enter quietly into the next house because the fourth-grader who lives there is sobbing out the aching of the hurt he experienced today in school: “My teacher told me that I am the worst penman in the whole class!” If there is dismay at the teacher and her lack of consideration for that young son, the mother doesn’t show it—only compassion and understanding. She carefully weighs her words, and then she says, “I’m sorry. I know it hurts to have someone point out your errors and your weaknesses, but I have a thought. Why don’t you practice your penmanship each day until you are the very best in the class?”
Her son’s tear-filled eyes begin to shine with a ray of hope. He asks, “But, how can I do it, Mother? When would I write? What will I write?”
“Every night after school you can work at the kitchen table until dinner time. Why don’t you begin copying your favorite scriptures? Or you might write words from the dictionary or even newsworthy events from the newspaper. You will learn a lot, and if you write very carefully and try to form each letter perfectly, you will soon be a beautiful penman. It can only happen with practice. You’ll have to try really hard.”
That determined little boy begins. He works hard every night. By the end of the year he comes home elated. “You were right, Mother! My teacher said today, ‘Theron, you are the very best penman in the class!'”
He invested the time. The place was established. He was given the encouragement. All of them are important elements of organization—needful things—if learning is to take place.
It’s Christmas Eve as we join this next family. They are at home in a strange city. It’s new to them. The father has to complete his professional training, and so the whole family had to be uprooted. At Christmastime, it is very difficult for them to be away from their extended families. They have just finished dinner as we enter the house, and so we’ll follow them into the family room.
The father says: “Children, Christmas is a time of great love. Our Heavenly Father loved us, his children, enough to send his Only Begotten Son into the world on that Christmas Day so long ago. He was to be the example of righteous living. He was to teach us how to grow close to our Heavenly Father. We must live worthy of that precious gift. This Christmas Eve I would like to give you a gift that is available to you only because Jesus was born. Because of him I hold the priesthood of God. With that power I would like to give each of you children a father’s blessing tonight. We will start with the oldest.”
One by one the children go to their father. They receive blessings suited to their special needs. Then we see each child, even the three-year-old, stand and tell how he or she has been blessed by the life of Jesus. The parents then testify to their children of the abundant blessings they have received from Jesus Christ.
I believe that those children will always remember this Christmas Eve. I believe that the example set by the parents of faith and prayer will be a directional force in the lives of their children. It is a needful thing to organize and to plan such experiences to be a part of one’s life. They don’t just happen.
Power in the Home
Someone once said, “All human power is a compound of time and patience,” and Benjamin Disraeli said, “All power is a trust” (Vivian Grey, book VI, chapter 7).
You should realize that time and patience are necessary for organizing your life and calling forth your powers. It may begin with something as simple as bringing order to your desk, to your drawers, or to the room where you are. You can leave each room better than it was when you entered it simply by picking up and by straightening it. Some people leave a trail of books, papers, clothes, boots, purses, and so forth, from the front door to the bedroom if that is their destination. They expect someone else to pick up after them, or they decide that they will retrace their steps at another time and begin picking up their belongings. Neither of these actions is worthy of the kind of living of which I speak. It’s good to believe in a future time, but it’s better to surround yourself with beauties and memories born of order.
President J. Reuben Clark, Jr., suggested that our homes are holy places and that we should approach them as if coming to an altar. Ask yourself what you have done to make your home an altar—a place that sanctifies or prepares those who are there for celestial living. Do your actions focus on developing loving relationships? Are there kindly acts of concern each day? Does your routine bring about maintenance of that home and practices of provident living? Do your pursuits bring about learning and refinement? Are the relationships within that home those that can be forever?
What is a home? To one of my friends it is a place where children are cherished and memories are born. Home is where she and her husband put priceless antiques they seek out. Home is where friends and family gather to share love. Home is a framed newspaper account of her grandmother’s funeral service or an oil painting of a scene she knows an loves. Home is an attic turned into an upstairs playroom that is just filled with things meant to bring happiness to children. Home is a collection of books that have lofty thoughts they make theirs. Home is a kitchen where good food is prepared and gratefully enjoyed. Her home is a place where you feel love and faith and dreams that have become a reality.
When President Ronald Reagan delivered his Inaugural Address, it was essentially based on faith in the American people. He said, “Act worthy of yourselves,” and he told us that we are “too great a nation to limit ourselves to small dreams.”
Power to Be Christlike
So it is for us as Latter-day Saints. We too must act worthy of ourselves and the glorious vision of truth and eternity which has been restored to us. That vision of eternal growth and gentle, loving persuasion is too great a dream to let go of when we hunger in our hearts to be one with our Savior.
The power is in you to reach out and claim those blessings.
Tonight, remember that beyond anything you have ever accomplished is the challenge of living the principles of heaven in such a way that you connect the powers in you with the powers of heaven. Melvin J. Ballard said:
Men came to the Savior to see what God was like; we stand to show men what Christ was like” (Melvin J. Ballard, Crusader for Righteousness [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1966], p. 112).
You have the powers within you to be Christlike. It is what you are meant to be, I humbly testify, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
Barbara B. Smith was president of the Relief Society of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints when this fireside address was given at Brigham Young University on 1 February 1981.
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