In the less-than-ideal circumstances that have characterized the past year, perhaps one thing youth worldwide have learned is that “life is sometimes an unexpected journey,” said Young Women General President Bonnie H. Cordon.
“Youth have learned how to be flexible and that their life can have joy and fulfillment in abundance as they really focus on doing the Lord’s work, which is the great work,” she said.
Her friend and counterpart, Young Men General President Steven J. Lund said the struggles that have defined much of 2021 have marked a challenging season. But like all seasons, they will pass.
“Even now,” he said, “there are things that we can do to help propel the work.”
After a year of engaging in “A Great Work” as part of the Lord’s battalion to gather Israel, youth are invited to deepen their relationship with Him as they learn to “Trust in the Lord” — 2022’s youth theme.
This Old Testament theme from Proverbs 3:5-6 is both timeless and timely as youth continue to navigate unexpected circumstances. It’s also counsel President Russell M. Nelson, President Dallin H. Oaks and other Church leaders have emphasized in recent months.
“If I’m going to trust anyone in my life, it’s usually because I have a great relationship with them,” President Cordon said. “So I hope this year, as youth do so well, that they can create an enhanced understanding of who the Savior is.”
The ongoing pandemic has caused some to turn inward, said President Lund. “But the 2022 theme causes us to turn outward. We are involved in a work that is bigger than our own individual lives. This work matters, and we are here for a reason.”
The Young Men and Young Women general presidencies offered three ways youth can deepen their relationship with the Savior in 2022 and build trust in Him.
1. Make time for the Lord
At the close of the October 2021 general conference, President Nelson counseled his global audience to make time for the Lord. His prophetic direction to make God one’s top priority is a key element of trusting God.
“If youth take a little time every day and follow what the prophet has asked, they are going to see some significant changes in their lives,” said Brother Bradley R. Wilcox, second counselor in the Young Men general presidency.
He has witnessed such changes in the lives of many of his students at Brigham Young University who have accepted President Nelson’s challenge to make time for the Lord. “They have started to make a little time every day for the Lord, and that builds trust.”
Trusting the Lord is not passive, reminded Sister Michelle D. Craig, first counselor in the Young Women general presidency. “Trusting requires us to act in faith and to do those small and simple things that we’ve been taught to do.”
One of those small and simple things is prayer. President Cordon encouraged youth to be “bold prayers” as they seek to strengthen their relationship with Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ.
“Be bold enough to really think through what things you’re grateful for … and ask specifically for things,” President Cordon said. For example, rather than praying to simply have a better day, pray for specific things to help to turn the day around.
“We have faith that the Lord will keep His promises. Then we trust in His timing and trust in what ‘keeping His promises’ looks like — which isn’t always what we think they should look like.”
2. Remember ‘the influencers’ who matter most
Today’s so-called “influencers” on popular social media platforms are blaring a cacophony of messages to young people. So who can the young people of the Church turn to amid the noise of the day?
“The 2022 theme reminds us that the influencers that need to matter most to us — the influencers that will lead us to the happiest conclusions — are our Heavenly Father, His prophets and the influence of the Holy Ghost,” said President Lund.
Brother Corbitt echoed President Nelson’s counsel to seek the “comforting and constant” influence of the Holy Ghost. Amid the din, that divine Influencer offers safety and clarity during periods of social peril and confusion.
“We need to seek and receive revelation, which the Lord is eager to give us,” said Brother Corbitt.
For President Cordon, “there is no better way to feel the Holy Ghost than to open the scriptures,” she said, “because He is a testifier of truth.”
As youth look for the Savior in the scriptures and ponder how the scriptures apply to them, “the Spirit is going to testify of things and you’re going to feel a nudge to underline this or highlight that. … Those are your own personal revelations from the Spirit,” she said.
Every other Sunday, young women worldwide recite this line from the Young Women theme: “I cherish the gift of repentance and seek to improve each day.”
“That’s a huge part of trusting in the Lord,” President Cordon said of repentance. “And it’s so liberating. The adversary wouldn’t want us to think that that’s part of the process.”
The Lord has laid out His plan of happiness by giving His children guidance and commandments, said President Lund. But sometimes God’s children don’t trust in the plan. They search for alternate paths that ultimately lead to unhappiness.
But trusting in God’s way offers safety. “If we live purposeful lives,” he said, “we can recognize when we are walking on His path.”
3. Be intentional in your efforts
“This is a generation that wants answers, and they have information at their fingertips, everywhere,” Sister Craven said. “That part of the new theme, I think, is especially important right now when there are so many messages out there.”
Trust will be critical as “our youth move forward in this noisy world that is only going to get noisier. … If youth are intentional about doing these things, they’ll get answers,” she said.
Today’s youth care about causes, added Brother Wilcox. The 2022 theme helps discover “the Great Cause” as they choose to trust God and give Him their prayerful attention. “This year’s theme focuses on who can help us do the great work.”
President Lund can quickly list several things young people can do to foster their trust in the Lord: Attend Church meetings and seminary. Participate and invest in the Children and Youth program. Receive and ponder one’s patriarchal blessing. Accept and fulfill Church assignments. And, finally, be prayerful and study the scriptures.
“The holy habits of discipleship will help the youth draw closer to Him and show their trust in Him.”
Sister Craig pointed to the Prophet Joseph Smith’s words in Doctrine and Covenants 123:17 as an example of trusting in the Lord: “Let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power, and then may we stand still … for his arm to be revealed.”
Being intentional means trusting in His timing, she said. “If everything good that we wanted happened right when we wanted it, we wouldn’t learn much about trusting.”
Like Sister Craig’s example of the Prophet Joseph Smith, Brother Corbitt said strength is found during difficult moments “by doing the work of salvation.” The Book of Mormon’s stripling warriors, for example, were protected because of their faith and commitment “to the work.”
“The youth of the Church have had the opportunity to do a great work during the pandemic. It’s been very helpful to them, and to those that they have served.”
Brother Wilcox observed that today’s youth may feel let down by many in the world. Relationships have been bruised and discarded.
“In a time where so many of their relationships have been hurt, young people may feel like they don’t dare trust. We need to remind them that there is one relationship that they can always trust: their covenant relationship with the Lord.”