LDS women and girls were counseled to look to the lighthouse of the Lord and refrain from unfairly comparing themselves to others during the annual Women's Meeting in the Tabernacle on Temple Square Saturday night.
President Thomas S. Monson introduced a new booklet titled "For the Strength of Youth" and hailed it as a "summary of safety signals," to be distributed to young people, that will provide standards "readily recognized and never failing," just as a lighthouse guides lost ships at sea.President Monson, second counselor in the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, reviewed 12 subjects covered by the booklet: dating; dress and appearance; friendshipping; honesty; language; media and entertainment; mental and physical health; music and dancing; sexual purity; Sunday behavior; spiritual help; and repentance. Of the latter, he counseled, "Don't put your eternal life at risk. If you have sinned, the sooner you begin to make your way back, the sooner you will find the sweet peace and joy that come with the miracle of forgiveness."
He also spoke of the love and trust church President Ezra Taft Benson has for the youth of the church. "And how might you return that love, that trust?
"You have a heritage: honor it. You will meet sin: shun it. You have the truth: live it. You have a testimony: share it."
The meeting, which included music from a 400-voice chorus assembled from wards and stakes in the church's Provo Utah region, was broadcast via satellite to some 3,000 gatherings of women in several countries worldwide.
President Elaine L. Jack, general president of the Relief Society, said when women compare themselves unfairly to the "superwomen they believe exist all around them, they deny the greatness that comes from consistently living Christ-like lives and serving in ordinary ways."
She said during her first six months at the Relief Society's helm she has heard from many about a common theme: "Sisters compare themselves to others.
"While some of us are motivated and encouraged by such imagined or real-life models, others of us are disheartened and discouraged by this same ideal woman - whether she is a composite of many women, or someone of whom we have read, or even someone we know."
She said such comparisons "may keep you from achieving your potential and basking in associations that will enrich your lives and the lives of others . . . We can never accurately take the measure of our lives based on social, economic, ethnic, age, marital or physical conditions. Ask yourself, are the comparisons you may make of yourself and others based on the model of the Savior's life or do they come from trying to fit your life into the pattern of others' lives?"
She said of those whose average day is lived in accordance with God's laws: "No greater heroine lives in today's world than the woman who is quietly doing her part. Generally unsung, you live everywhere . . . You show your love for the Lord daily as you support husbands, nurture children, care for parents, benefit neighbors, serve in your schools, sit on community councils and do much of the work of this world in and out of the home. No one is more impressive than you . . . If I could have the desire of my heart for you, it would be that you feel valued for your own goodness."
President Jack asked women to live lives free of unrealistic comparisons while remembering the five points that the Relief Society emphasizes: building personal testimony, blessing the individual woman, developing and exercising charity, strengthening families and enjoying a unified sisterhood.
Young Women President Ardeth G. Kapp told listeners they must be prepared to face challenges equal to or greater than those faced by the pioneers who settled the Salt Lake Valley. "Mothers, it may seem easier for you to die in the wagon than to stand guard every day in defending and upholding standards of righteousness. It may seem easier to die for the gospel, in an effort to save your children, than to live for it. But live it you must so they will not die spiritually."
Relating the story of the crickets that devoured many of the life-sustaining crops the pioneers had planted, she said, "The crickets of our day are different than in times past. They are more powerful, more dangerous and less noticeable," and include dressing immodestly, seeing vulgar entertainment, abusing drugs and dating at a young age.
"At first, things may appear to be very innocent. Thoughts, words and pictures are placed into our minds through very subtle and sophisticated ways. Thoughts come first and are then expressed through words. No one uses vulgar, crude words without first having the same kind of thoughts. Can you see how damaging such innocent beginnings are?"
President Kapp said peer pressure "is one of the great tests of today," and that young women, by submitting to it, "give Satan a foothold . . . The battle between good and evil is very real. We determine by the choices we make each day where we stand, what our values are and whom we have chosen to follow . . .
"Every right choice can conquer a cricket. Rebellion against the laws and standards that God has given to protect us would be like killing the seagulls to preserve the crickets. Standards of the church have been given to protect us and help us grow spiritually."
Betty Jo Jepsen, first counselor in the general presidency of the Primary, encouraged children everywhere to show kindness through serving others. She told of a young group of girlfriends who planned a party and invited all but one of the members of the group. When one of the girls realized her friend was being excluded, she refused to accept the invitation unless all were included.
"No act of kindness is ever wasted. You cannot do a kindness too soon. Acting kindly can change the giver and the receiver for good."
She said developing kindness is important "even if we feel we are too shy or too busy . . . Perhaps the real measure of our kindness comes if we can be so when we are tired, disappointed, or suffering because of an unkind deed done to us. Are we kind when all is not well?"