Women were encouraged to realize their personal worth, lose themselves in acts of kindness and always seek self-improvement Saturday evening at the General Women's Meeting of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
At the request of President Ezra Taft Benson, President Thomas S. Monson of the First Presidency read President Benson's prepared remarks.President Benson, who presided over the conference, listened intently as President Monson conveyed the message to women gathered at the Tabernacle on Temple Square. The meeting was telecast to more than 2,000 meeting houses throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico and translated into 12 languages.
President Monson said that President Benson had instructed him to read the speech slowly and with meaning. "This message is coming from the prophet," President Monson began.
"Be a better you. Don't accept life as it is. Always strive to make it better. Keep growing and learning and progressing and serving others."
The LDS prophet's remarks particularly focused on the role of single women.
"We see so many of you living Christ-like lives worthy of emulation and giving such dedicated service in the church," President Monson read.
"We see you as a vital part of the mainstream body of the church. We pray that the emphasis we naturally place on families will not make you feel less needed or less valuable to the Lord or to his church. The sacred bonds of church membership go far beyond marital status, age or present circumstance. Your individual worth as a daughter of God transcends all."
President Benson's message encouraged single women to never lose sight of the sacred goal of marrying in the temple.
"Don't trifle away your happiness by involvement with someone who cannot take you worthily to the temple. Make a decision now that this is the place where you will marry. To leave that decision until a romantic involvement develops is to take a risk the importance of which you can't now fully calculate."
Warning women to avoid becoming too independent and self-reliant, President Monson said, "We earnestly pray that our single sisters will desire honorable marriage in the temple . . . even though this may mean the sacrificing of degrees and careers."
The church leader assured single women that if they do not marry in this life time, in the next life they will be blessed with a choice companion.
"God will surely compensate you. Time is numbered only to man. God has your eternal perspective in mind."
Expressing compassion to widowed or divorced women, President Benson's text advised them to resist bitterness and cynicism and to counsel with their priesthood leaders.
"Being divorced or being a widow is not the end. Hurt will turn to healing. Loneliness is not forever. Single parenthood is understood by the Lord. God is there."
To all women _ regardless of their circumstances _ the LDS leader admonished faithfulness, obedience and establishing a relationship with the Lord.
"Realize your personal self-worth. Never demean yourself. Realize the strength of your inner self and that, with God's help, you can do all things through Christ, which strenghteneth you."
President Barbara W. Winder, Relief Society general president, encouraged women to put the Lord first _ balancing spiritual with temporal preparations.
Spiritual preparedness should not be sacrificed in efforts to keep a clean home, she said.
President Winder gave the example of a woman who spent hours preparing her home for a visiting general authority. By the time the general authority arrived, she was too exhausted to enjoy his visit.
It is because of our spiritual preparation that we can feel the greatest joy of all, a nearness and closeness to our Savior and Father in Heaven, she said.
Spiritual preparedness is accomplished by developing a strong relationship with God and through prayer, scripture study, obedience and by sustaining the priesthood, said President Winder.
"Often the advice that is given by our prophets is so simple and practical that we overlook it and fail to heed it."
She urged women to live up to their divine potential
Saying she was addressing girls age 10 and 11, President Michaelene P. Grassli, Primary general president, said that happiness comes through doing what is right.
"When we are good or righteous, we are following God's plan," she said.
"The Lord has given you control of your life by giving you a choice. There will be some tough days in your lives _ very tough days. But you can decide whether or not you are going to be happy by making choices that will lead you close to your Heavenly Father and away from Satan. You can decide what you will say and do."
As young girls choose what is right, they will feel a comfort inside that they have done what is right and that their Heavenly Father approves of their choices, she said.
President Ardeth G. Kapp, Young Women general president, said she prays constantly for the protection of the young women of the church who struggle with temptation
"Never before in the history of the church has there been such a need for young women who are willing to sacrifice popularity if necessary, suffer loneliness if required, even be rejected if needed, to defend the gospel of Jesus Christ."
Young women today are needed to set an example for others trying to find their way in a "darkening world," she said.
When faced with temptation, young women should ask themselves, "Will this decision bring me closer to my Father in Heaven?"
"When we begin to know what our Father in Heaven wants for us, then we begin to experience a peace, a happiness that we have never known before," President Kapp said.