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BYU students are urged to stay a steady course on life's highway

Brigham Young University students must get out of the back seat and take the wheel on life's roadway, said the general president of the LDS Church Relief Society Tuesday.

Mary Ellen W. Smoot, who was called as president of the 4 million-member women's organization last year, spoke to BYU students gathered in the Marriott Center. It was the first time she addressed BYU's student body since her call to the Relief Society presidency in April 1997."Until now you have only been a passenger in your parent's vehicle," Smoot said. "But now is your turn to take the wheel and navigate the course for your family and posterity."

Smoot compared life to a superhighway and told students that their choices will point them either in the direction of truth or despair. Along the way, she said, students should remember that the vehicle in which they are traveling is the family.

"Families bolster you in times of need and humble you when you are overtaken with pride," she said. "The family is not a nicety but a necessity."

She said that the traditional family is under siege and that government cannot save it. The only thing that will save families is heeding God's prophets, she told students.

She also asked them to "accept some motherly counsel," which was not to let convenience determine who they would marry, when and how many children they would have and which career they would enter.

She related to students her philosophy for enjoying the drive down life's road with her own family. "If you are happy, notify your face," she said.

Individuals can decide to be happy, even if they have difficulties in life. And for those who may be victims of domestic abuse, her message was the same. "You have the opportunity to break the abuse cycle."

Smoot said that while traveling along life's superhighway, visibility is essential. The ability to judge right from wrong is aided by the Holy Ghost, which will continue to guide those who follow its prompt-ings.

She related the story of Karl G. Maeser, the first principal of the school that later became BYU. As a student in Dresden, Germany, Maeser abandoned his childhood religious beliefs and became an agnostic. As he studied, however, his attention turned to an LDS Church pamphlet.

Although the translation of the pamphlet was poorly done, Maeser became convinced that it was true, Smoot said. He asked for missionaries to come and teach him, joined the LDS Church and later immigrated to Utah.

His name graced one of the first buildings on BYU's upper campus, and the Maeser Building remains a testament for today's students to Maeser's acceptance of the truth once the Holy Ghost witnessed it to him, she said.

Finally, Smoot said, there are many truths and fallacies - like road signs - along life's path. The difficult thing is to see the signs for what they are and not be led down the wrong road by a deceptive sign.

"Truth endures and liberates, while fallacy falters and imprisons," she said. "Truth carries with it power, while falsehood yields only unfulfilled expectations."

Smoot, who grew up in Clearfield, related several stories from her youth. She also told an experience she had while a student at Utah State University. She now realizes that the decisions she made then carried her to the present location of her life, she said.

"Each of you needs to stop and consider how well you are prepared for the miles ahead," Smoot said. "Are you strong enough to withstand the inevitable bumps, jolts and storms that life's superhighway will introduce?"