Menu
In the News

President Bingham teaches Ensign College students the antidote to the ‘unique anxieties of this era’


The challenges of attending college can increase stress and anxiety for any student — not to mention political divisiveness, economic and employment uncertainty, and the past two years of pandemic impacts, Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham acknowledged. 

But there is an antidote to that stress and anxiety, she reassured Ensign College students during a campus devotional in the Assembly Hall on Temple Square on Tuesday, Jan. 25. 

She quoted the words of President Russell M. Nelson: “The Lord has declared that despite today’s unprecedented challenges, those who build their foundations upon Jesus Christ, and have learned how to draw upon His power, need not succumb to the unique anxieties of this era.”

To help students deal with “the unique anxieties of this era,” President Bingham taught how to build a foundation on Jesus Christ, turn to Him in times of trial and learn to draw upon His power. 

Understand and value divine identity

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are blessed to understand that they are daughters and sons of a living and loving Father in Heaven. “Recognizing and believing that eternal, absolute truth can help you make daily choices that lead to your ultimate happiness,” she said. 

She emphasized the need to value one’s self without resorting to comparison to others. Even the question “How am I doing?” can be helpful to eternal progress — or not — depending on where one looks for an answer. 

Carefully prepared depictions of life on social media contribute to the misperception that others aren’t also struggling, which is false. 

“Everyone has challenges,” President Bingham said. “How do we know that? Because Heavenly Father’s plan of happiness actually requires us to stretch as we learn and grow to fulfill our divine potential. That inevitably includes discomfort and even some emotional distress as we work through our learning experiences.”

A young woman takes notes as Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham speaks to Ensign College students during a devotional in Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.

A young woman takes notes as Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham speaks to Ensign College students during a devotional in Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.

Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

President Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the First Presidency, taught: “Sometimes our needed growth is achieved better by suffering and adversity than by comfort and tranquility. And none of this mortal opposition could achieve its eternal purpose if divine intervention relieved us from all the adverse consequences of mortality.”

You’re not left alone in your struggles

The knowledge that God doesn’t leave His children alone in their struggles is “immeasurably comforting,” President Bingham said.  

“Prayer is our lifeline to help. I testify that Heavenly Father listens to and answers everyone’s prayers, even those of us who have made mistakes — which is every single person. Why? Because we are His children, and He loves us. His joy and His work are to help us progress and return to Him.”

When President Bingham’s husband, Bruce, was in graduate school several years ago, he found himself under what he described as a “disproportionate level” of stress as he tried to balance all the demands of life — including his course work, a new baby, a new Church calling and an attic apartment in the heat of summer. 

One night, after becoming frustrated with statistics equations, he threw down his pencil, stumbled outside and paced the dark streets in the drizzling rain. 

He poured out his heart in prayer, saying something like: “Father, I know life is supposed to be a test, but you’ve got to find a different way. I can’t take this any longer. I’ll just have to quit unless something drastically changes. Please help me!”

As his feet splashed through the puddles, his heart began to soften and he felt the burden lift. Peace came as he returned home. He was able to solve the statistics equations. With continued focused effort, he completed the course and later graduated and found a job to support his family. 

“If you learn to pray, you need not fear,” President Bingham said. “You will have the assurance that no matter how difficult the decision or how many trials you may have to face, you can always have the help and comfort of a perfectly wise and loving Heavenly Father and His Son Jesus Christ who suffered the Atonement for each of us. …

“Building your foundation on Jesus Christ is the answer to every challenge. Know that when you are feeling overwhelmed, when peace has escaped as the burdens pile up, His perfect love, wisdom and mercy can ‘reach [to your] reaching’ at any time, in any place and for any situation. His help is there any time we ask.”

President Bingham underscored Alma’s teachings to his son Helaman in Alma 37:33-37 — including daily prayer, scripture study, keeping the commandments, repentance and service. These actions, she said, will increase ability to find answers to challenges and withstand temptations.

“That is how one draws upon His power,” she said. “It seems so simple, not very grand, but it will make all the difference in your life. … Focusing on these simple behaviors will have a profound influence on the joy you feel despite your circumstances, as President Nelson taught.”

Focus on the good

Despite personal and global challenges, “there is much good to be found,” President Bingham said. “Remember that progress is often not immediate or obvious but takes time and effort.”

She shared several statistics indicating the good happening on a global scale. For example, the child mortality rate in 2015 was down to 4.3% — 10 times lower than two centuries ago. Research suggests that the share of people living in extreme poverty has fallen below 10% worldwide. And an estimated 85% of people are now literate, compared to 10% in 1820. 

“So, when challenges come and anxiety begins to climb, look for the good in life and express your appreciation to God, from whom all blessings flow. Remember that joy comes from and because of Him,” President Bingham said. 

Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham smiles to people in the audience after speaking to Ensign College students for a devotional in Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.

Relief Society General President Jean B. Bingham smiles to people in the audience after speaking to Ensign College students for a devotional in Assembly Hall on Temple Square in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, Jan. 25, 2022.

Credit: Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

She cited lyrics from the beloved hymn “Count Your Blessings” and encouraged students to do “the small and simple things” every day that will help them stay on the covenant path and prepare them for the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. 

“I express my love and gratitude to each of you for your goodness and courage,” she concluded. “I encourage you to see the good in others and find joy in life, despite the challenges. I pray you will remember who you are, keep an eternal focus and build your foundation on Jesus Christ. 

“I bear witness that Heavenly Father loves and knows each of us individually, that Jesus Christ has made it possible for every one of us to repent and improve because of His gift of the Atonement, and that following the counsel of our beloved President Russell M. Nelson, the Lord’s Prophet for this day, will help us through the inevitable challenges of life and prepare us to welcome the Savior at His coming.”

Gabriela Gaytan, an Ensign College student from Veracruz, Mexico, studying communications, said she appreciated President Bingham acknowledging that life can be overwhelming sometimes and the dangers of comparing oneself to others. “Like she said, by small acts and small things we do in our life, we can reach that level we want to reach,” Gaytan said.

Hizabela Delmás, from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, studying human resources, said she learned that she can find peace despite all the confusion in the world by focusing more the Savior. “Sometimes it’s hard to put Him as a priority, but we know that as long as we put Him as a priority, we’re going to be fine,” Delmas said.

Newsletters
Subscribe for free and get daily or weekly updates straight to your inbox
The three things you need to know everyday
Highlights from the last week to keep you informed