“Have you ever felt discouraged and inadequate?”
“Do you feel overwhelmed by the massive amount of information that surrounds you and the conflicting voices that pull you in different directions?”
“Do you have questions and longings in your heart?”
“Have you ever looked up to heaven and asked: 'Heavenly Father, can you help me?' ”
Sister Reyna I. Aburto, second counselor in the Relief Society general presidency, posed those questions to students of the Salt Lake Institute during a devotional Thursday, Sept. 13.
“We all feel like that from time to time,” Sister Aburto said. “It seems that at times we struggle to find or remember our place and our purpose. At times, we may look at the future and feel that we do not have what it takes to face it. At other times, we may even look at the next day, or the next week, and be overwhelmed by fear.”
The answer to most of those questions and concerns, Sister Aburto said, is "found in the small and simple things we can incorporate into our daily lives."
Those words rang true for University of Utah student, Mele Taunauta. The sophomore from Millcreek, Utah, returned home from her mission to San Jose, California, in February and has since missed the feelings she had as a missionary.
“She reminded me of the simple things — like reading the Book of Mormon — that give us the power that will lift me,” she said. “I want a complicated, big answer, but it is the simple things that make a difference.”
Reminding students of the power that comes through reading the Book of Mormon, Sister Aburto shared her own experience of the feelings and peace and comfort that came into her life when she read the Book of Mormon when she was 26 years old.
“I invite you, my young brothers and sisters, to look for those messages and promises that are specific for you, and for me, for us, in these latter days,” Sister Aburto said. “By doing so, each of you will find guidance, assurances, answers, and most of all, a purpose."
Recognizing a big part of the beauty and power of the gospel of Jesus Christ lies in its simplicity, Sister Aburto shared 17 pieces of advice — as a mother, aunt and friend — to help students along their way.
1. Start each day with a sincere prayer to Heavenly Father. Ask Him for guidance through the Holy Ghost throughout the day. Remember the Lord Jesus Christ in every little or big decision.
2. "Do your best, without being too hard on yourselves." Be realistic; be happy; laugh; enjoy each moment.
3. Disconnect from screens and find connection with others. Smile; say hello; look people in the eye; make friends; become friends; do not be afraid to show vulnerabilities; listen to others; be compassionate.
4. Bring others, on both sides of the veil, to Christ; share with them the good news of the gospel; share with them the joy that comes from living the gospel of Jesus Christ; show them the happiness and the protection that comes from obeying the commandments of God.
5. Go out with friends. Have wholesome fun. Make friends and become a friend.
6. Date people who share similar principles and eternal goals. Do not be afraid to fall in love. Be the ideal person for someone. Be ready, be prepared.
7. Look around; count blessings; enjoy life; be happy.
8. When feeling sad, cry and feel sad for a little while. Then, wipe the tears, remember Jesus Christ, think of Him. The very thought of Him will bring sweetness, joy and power. To those who feel constantly sad, Sister Aburto encouraged them to ask for help and reminded them they are not alone.
9. Attend institute, invite friends to institute; bring friends to institute. Find joy in gathering as Church members. Minister, and allow others to minister, as the Savior does.
10. Rejoice in learning from good books. Prepare for the future, one little step at a time. Do the small and simple things that will bring the Spirit.
11. Read the scriptures; listen to them on an electronic device. Ponder and apply the scriptures to every moment and circumstance. Use that knowledge and testimony to help others come to Christ.
12. Draw upon personal revelation found in a patriarchal blessing. Ponder the words in it. Believe the wonderful things that God says. Reflect on His promises and try to prepare to receive them.
13. Change any habits that need to be fixed and do whatever is necessary to come back to the covenant path. "We are never beyond the reach of our Savior if we will turn to Him in humility and sincerity," Sister Aburto said.
14. Do not worry too much about what others think. “The only opinion of us that matters is what our Heavenly Father thinks of us," she said. "Please sincerely ask Him what He thinks of you.”
15. Do not make a checklist for life. Instead of having a rigid plan for life, keep preparing for what will come. Remember that God has a plan for each individual. Be open to the opportunities that come unexpectedly and follow the Spirit.
16. "Do your best each day, without being too hard on yourselves."
17. At the end of each day, kneel down and pray to Heavenly Father. "Tell Him that you have done your best and ask Him to give you His assurance that He is pleased with you," Sister Aburto said. "He will grant you the honest desires of your heart. He hears and answers every child’s prayer."