Realizing the divinity within, cultivating personal potential and being anxiously engaged in meaningful activities were among a wide range of topics covered by President Gordon B. Hinckley in an address to single adults in the Salt Lake Tabernacle Sept. 22.
"Men and women such as you have great talents and can add immeasurably to the quality of the teaching and leadership in almost any ward in the Church," President Hinckley said. "It is our responsibility – ours – to constantly remind bishops and other Church officers to give each member a warm welcome and make use of his or her talents."For when all is said and done, we should not be classified as married and single, but as members of the Church, each worthy of the same attention and the same care, the same opportunities to be of service."
President Hinckley was the speaker in the fireside for single adults over 31. The fireside, sponsored by the Salt Lake Valley Single Adult Fireside Committee, is the first of several throughout the next year scheduled by the committee. In anticipation of President Hinckley's address, hundreds had formed lines outside the Tabernacle before the start of the fireside.
A stirring rendition of "How Great Thou Art" set a reverent atmosphere for the meeting. "Wonderful" was the way President Hinckley described the performance of a choir of single adults from the Salt Lake Valley as he stepped to the pulpit of the historic edifice.
On this fall evening, twilight shined through the open doors of the Tabernacle and gleamed through the panes of glass above the doors. An excited buzz quickly hushed as the prophet, with his wife, Marjorie, by his side, walked onto the rostrum. Seated by President and Sister Hinckley on the stand were Elder Robert K. Dellenbach of the Seventy, who is second counselor in the Utah North Area presidency, and his wife, Mary Jayne.
In his remarks, President Hinckley said that there was no other group he'd rather speak to at this time. "Though you are so diverse in your backgrounds, we have put a badge on you as if you were all alike. That badge reads:
SINGLES.' I do not like that. I do not like to categorize people. I feel at home with you, because you are all Latter-day Saints. My heart reaches out in love to all of you. I think that in some measure, at least, I know something of your problems and your desires. You reply,You have never been through what we go through, and so you really don't know anything about it.' There is a measure of truth in that, but I hope you will not deny the feelings of my heart for you.
"All of you presumably are without marriage partners. Many of you wish that you were married. You think that this would be the answer to all of your problems," President Hinckley continued, bringing chuckles from those listening. "While a happy marriage should be the goal of every normal Latter-day Saint, let me assure you that for many who are married, life is miserable and filled with fears and anxiety.
"I say that only to remind you that there are those who are married whose lives are extremely unhappy, and that you, who are single and experience much of deep and consuming worry, are not alone in your feelings.
"Never forget, my brothers and sisters, that there is something of divinity in each of you. You are a son or daughter of God, and you have a wonderful inheritance. I hope you will never belittle or demean yourself. Some of you may think that you are not attractive, that you have no talents. Stop wandering around in the wasteland of self-pity.
"When I was much younger there was a popular song which said,
Accentuate the positive.' Attitude has more to do with personality, with attractiveness, with getting along with others than does any other attribute. The scripture states thatas a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.' " (Prov. 23:7.)
In speaking to those wishing to be married, President Hinckley admonished: "Do not give up hope. And do not give up trying. But do give up being obsessed with it. The chances are that if you forget about it and become anxiously engaged in other activities, the prospects will brighten immeasurably.
"I wish that every woman might be married to a good man, one worthy of her association and her companionship, a breadwinner who would look after her needs and the needs of those who come to that home, her protector, her strength, a companion, who loves and cherishes her. I would hope that every man might have the eternal companionship of a woman who loves him, who comforts and encourages him, who reads and thinks, who understands and cultivates his strengths as well as her own, one with whom he can share his innermost thoughts, one with whom he can walk side by side on the high road that leads to immortality and eternal life. Unfortunately, it does not always work out that way. So frequently it does not."
President Hinckley added that marriage requires a high degree of tolerance, which some need to cultivate.
Continuing, he counseled: "Let us face the fact that in this life some of you will marry, some of you may not. For those of you who do, it must be a total commitment, without reservation. It must involve total and unequivocal loyalty. It must be a covenant for eternity, a companionship that will require constant attention and nurturing.
"For those who do not marry, this fact of life must be faced squarely. But continuous single status is not without opportunity, without challenge, nor without generous recompense."
President Hinckley assured those listening he wasn't minimizing their problems, but encouraged them to reach out to those "whose problems are more serious than are yours."
"There are so many boys and girls who fail in school for want of a little personal attention and encouragement. There are so many elderly people who live in misery and loneliness and fear for whom a single conversation would bring a measure of hope and brightness.
"Lose yourself in the service of others. As Jesus said, `He that saveth his life shall lose it; he that loseth his life shall save it.' (See Matt. 16:25.)"
Concerning the potential within each person, President Hinckley said: "Regardless of our age, unless there be serious illness, we can read, study, drink in the writings of wonderful men and women. We of this Church have been given a marvelous promise by the Lord Himself. Said He: `That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day.' (D&C 50:24.)
"What a remarkable statement that is. It is one of my favorite verses of scripture. It speaks of growth, of development, of the march that leads toward Godhood."
President Hinckley encouraged the congregation to avoid pornography "as you would a plague." He said to avoid the foul language and "titillating rubbish" of many TV programs, videotapes, magazines, 900 numbers, "and the filth that I am told is now found on the Internet."
Continuing, President Hinckley admonished single adults against traveling alone together to distant places and against immoral behavior. "To all of you, accept every invitation to serve in the Church. Be true and faithful, be loyal and supportive concerning this glorious work of the Lord.
"To you single mothers and fathers, may I say a special word of appreciation for you. Your burdens are heavy. We know this. Your concerns are deep. There is never enough money. There is never enough time. Do the very best you can and plead with the Lord for His help that your children may grow in grace and understanding and achievement, and, most importantly, in faith. If you do so, the day will come when you will get on your knees, and with tears in your eyes, thank the Lord for His blessings upon you.
"To you older women and men, who are widows and widowers, how precious you are. You have lived long and had much of experience. You have tasted the bitter and the sweet. You have known much of pain and sorrow and loneliness and fear. But you also carry in your hearts a sweet and sublime assurance that God our Father will not fail us in our hour of need.
"Brothers and sisters, every one of you, look above your trials. Try to forget your own pain as you work to alleviate the pain of others. Share your burdens with the Lord."
President Hinckley counseled: "Go to work on your family history. You will become enthralled with it. Qualify for a temple recommend and live worthy of it at all times and in all circumstances. I would think that every one of you would hold a temple recommend. If you do not, then resolve tonight that you will get your lives in order and become eligible to go to the Lord's house. There you may help those who are totally helpless to help themselves. Each time you go, you will leave as a better man or woman than when you entered."
In conclusion, President Hinckley promised single adult Latter-day Saints happiness based upon their righteousness. He assured them of "our love. Please be assured of our respect, of our confidence in you."