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Believe in Yourself! (Gene R. Cook)

You young men and women are at the threshhold of some of life's key decisions. Listen carefully. Silently pray to be taught. There may be something the Lord will say to you in your heart as a result of what is spoken here this morning.

"Some years ago a young man I'll call Raymond was in the 7th grade. He was a little taller than the other boys and was doing quite well in basketball and track. However, as the year progressed, the coach of the team began saying to him, 'Raymond, stay seated. You're no ball player. You're too clumsy!' The next game, 'No, we don't need you. You stay right there. You can't run. You can't shoot the ball. You're not fast enough.' This process continued for a number of months.

So the inevitable happened, because of that continual negative conditioning, and Raymond finally believed what he was being told about himself. He bought it hook, line, and sinker. He believed it so much that in coming years he did his best to avoid gym altogether. He did not play basketball with the young men anymore at Church or at school. He set aside running. He avoided sports and went through high school minimizing interaction of any kind in sports. The negative conditioning even followed him into his first year of college. Some athletics were required, but again he minimized his involvement to the smallest degree possible.

A year later he found himself on a mission in a distant land. In this particular country the buses that the missionaries used did not stop to let people get on or off. One had to learn to do that on the run.

One afternoon, as Raymond and his companion looked down the street, being a block or two from the bus stop, they saw the bus coming. One of them said, 'Run, Elder, run, or we'll miss our next appointment.' To Raymond's great surprise, he beat his companion to the bus stop. Again, that afternoon, Raymond purposely arranged a few runs for the bus. He beat his companion each time.

He was shocked, amazed, and almost unbelieving, because he knew that his companion had received a number of awards for being the fastest runner in all of northern Arizona. Raymond was overcome. Could it be so? They ran again. He won.

All of a sudden the terrible realization came that he had wasted all those years. He could have excelled in athletics, but he had believed what someone else had sown in his mind. He then began questioning himself about every other attitude he had in which he might have been deceived concerning belief in self."

As a Man Thinketh, So is He:

Have you ever done that? Are you in that process now? Has someoneconvinced you that you are not good at music or mathematics (or missionary work?) Each of us definitely had different gifts given to us. But I'm convinced that many of us are severely limited by the beliefs we have about our own self.

Solomon said, "For as (a man) thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7). And the Lord said, "And then, behold, according to your desires, yea, even according to your faith shall it be done unto you" (D&C 11:17). You cannot rise higher than your own beliefs and thoughts about yourself. Jesus said, "If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth" (Mark 9:23). One of the great processes you are in now is to discover yourself, to find those gifts and capacities God has given you. He has given you greattalents, the smallest part of which you have just begun to utilize. Trust the Lord to assist you in unlocking the door to those gifts. Some of us have created imaginary limits in our own mind. There is literally a genius locked up inside each of us. Don't ever let anyone convince you of the contrary!

The young man in this true story found himself in the mission field. Didn't the Lord teach us that whosoever sought his own life would lose it, and he that lost his life in the service of others would find it? Discover yourself! If you have not yet gone, go on a mission. You will find yourself.

Yes, that discovery of self will be a great blessing to you in making those major decisions—whether it be going on a mission, selecting a career, finding a suitable marriage partner, or raising a family.

All of you, to some degree, are facing a situation in which you encounter some difficult challenges. This is the first time many of you have been away from home for any period of time. You may be facing difficult tests and struggling to meet your expectations and those of others.

I bear testimony of the fact that if you keep the commandments, he nourishes you, strengthens you, and provides you means for accomplishing all things necessary to faithfully finish your divine mission here on earth. May the Lord bless you, this special generation, while you are making these great decisions, the big ones, yes, and also the little ones, throughout all your lives. Rely on the only sure power for doing it all correctly. Invite his spirit to be with you. He will see you through and return you to your celestial home. May we look to the Lord (see 1 Nephi 15:3; 18:16), and trust in the Lord, as we ought to, in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen

Gene R. Cook:  (taken from BYU Speeches, 1983-84)