Growing up is hard. Being a teenager is often awkward, but in youth and young adulthood we make crucial decisions that determine what adults we will become. Deciding whether to stay morally clean, who and when to date, whether to have a Temple marriage, what college to go to, whether to prepare to be a Mormon missionary: all of these things change how we will be for the rest of our lives. A decision to prepare and enter the Mormon temple can bring immense blessings, while a decision not to stay morally clean can bring dire heartache.
We are in the decision-making portion of our existence. The teenage years can be somewhat of a fall from the innocence of childhood, just like we came down to Earth from living in innocence with God. We need the knowledge we gain in life, as in teenage years, to grow up to our full potential. Though some of us would probably like to skip being teenagers, it’s a crucial learning stage. Even in awkward, emotional, challenging times, you learn important lessons to guide your life. Similarly, in the fallen state of mortality, we learn from experience the lessons necessary for our eternal destiny.
The lessons we learn in life and the decisions we make will determine whether we meet our full potential—whether we can become like our Father in Heaven. President Thomas S. Monson shared a story in the last General Conference, in which an elders quorum president was asked about the worth of souls:
The stunned quorum president hesitated as he formulated his reply. I had a prayer in my heart that he would be able to answer the question. He finally responded, “The worth of a soul is its capacity to become as God.” (Thomas S. Monson, “Our Sacred Priesthood Trust,” Ensign, May 2006, 56)
Being a teenager seems like everything when it’s happening, but when it’s over, it seems like a very short time—a time when we either prepared for the blessings and responsibilities of adulthood or we wasted time, thinking that just being a teenager was all that mattered. This life is the same way. We can either choose to prepare for the eternal adulthood—being like God—or we can be absorbed in mortality, thinking that this life is what matters.
So what does matter? Remembering the worth of your immortal soul, and preparing for the life to come. In this life, there are many ways we can prepare. We can take advantage of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. He paid the price for your otherwise-impossible destiny—will you do what it takes to reach it? We can learn to know personally our Heavenly Father and our Savior. We can repent, pray, read scriptures, listen to our leaders, and control ourselves.
While the hope and destiny of every human being is great, the things that will bring that destiny into view are usually simple, sometimes tedious, and never glamorous. They are the little things we do every day, like praying meaningfully, repenting of smaller or larger sins, and going to Mormon Church meetings. But these small things are what bring about the miracles necessary to grow to be closer to and more like Heavenly Father. Daily devotion to doing the right is what brings a powerful testimony and witness from the Holy Ghost. Worthiness brings the blessings of eternity promised when we keep our covenants. Repentance allows the miraculous atonement really work in us, to clean us from sin and let God forget our wrongs.
In this time of making choices, as in mortal life, we choose what we will be. We choose whether to be morally clean adults, blessed by covenants and service. We choose whether we will become like God after this mortal life. At this time, remember what you are worth. Remember not to throw yourself away in the darkness of a tough decision. There is light in keeping an eternal perspective.