Life is a war zone and the youth of the Church are the valiant warriors sent to fight the adversary, said Merrilee Boyack in a youth Education Week class Wednesday.
“You didn’t realize that you are in the spiritual military,” Boyack said. “You were in boot camp in the pre-mortal life and you were sent here for the big battle.”
Boyack compared the youth to a young girl skipping through a war zone filled with snipers, land mines and other perils — blissfully unaware of the danger she was in. Youths can not be like this, Boyack said; they have to be prepared.
“I think that may of us are in mortal and eternal danger and we don’t get it, we don’t see it,” she said. “Do not be naive, we are at war.”
Boyack informed the youth of a battle zone in their own back yard. It is not filled with landmines, nor is it fought with guns, but it requires strong, honorable warriors.
“We were at war in the state of California, it was called Proposition 8,” Boyack said. “It was a battle zone.”
Boyack stared out into the audience, asking all present, a large number of who were from California, if they had fought for Proposition 8. All throughout the room hands rose proudly in the air.
“These are our warriors,” she said.
However, this was just one battle, Boyack said, and they are in a war. The enemy is strong, she cautioned. She told the youth Satan wasn’t just anybody in Heaven — he was a leader.
“This guy was close to the Savior … he was an unbelievably developed spirit,” she said. “When he wanted his own way, he rebelled … and now he’s out to get you.”
Satan’s plan, she continued, is to attack the saints of God. By another raise of hands, Boyack asked who the saints of God are.
The youth acknowledged their position with a confident raise of their hands.
“[Satan] chose us to fight against,” Boyack said. “You are the target enemy, you are the crown jewels.”
First, the youth had to know how Satan would try to get them. Generally, Boyack said, there are two positions members can choose apart from accepting the counsel of the prophets and Church leaders.
“One is apostasy in saying that our leaders don’t know what they’re doing. The other is apathy,” she said. “Both are dangerous.”
Often in apostasy, good members of the Church justify their differing opinions by saying Church leaders are out of date, out of touch or simply stating their opinion, Boyack said.
In apathy, they just decide it will never happen, that the issues the world faces will disappear if only the members ignore them. This is Satan’s plan, Boyack said.
“We spend very little time talking about Satan’s plan for good reason — we don’t want you to pick it,” Boyack said. “But we’re going to talk about it a little bit just so you are aware.”
Boyack began by warning the youth about the bitterness of Satan. He lost everything, and now he wants revenge.
“Can you imagine how miserable he is?” Boyack asked. “He could have had everything and he risked it all on one bet and with that he now he has nothing.”
His target, of course, has shifted to those who have found the truth and are on the path to getting back to their Heavenly Father.
“You are on the track of salvation and happiness,” she said, “and he’s not too happy about it.”
So he created his Plan of Misery, Boyack said. He created this plan to put all the two-thirds of heaven who did not follow him into an enslavement of sin.
“Here’s what he wants to do with his misery,” Boyack said. “His plan is for you to be miserable; his plan is for you to be in darkness.”
Boyack continued by listing the several ways in which Satan would achieve his goal: through digesting damage, discouragement, distraction and darkening.
“There is a direct connection between your body and your spirit,” Boyack said.
Because of this connection, it is important the youth do not fall into gluttony, obesity and addiction. Boyack asked the youth if they were consuming food with drug-like attributes.
This is more than just caffeine, she said, this is sugar, chocolate, energy drinks and fat.
“You want to supersize everything,” Boyack said. “You’re going to supersize your body and your heart and your liver all at the same time.”
Next, Boyack warned against the destructive nature of discouragement and distraction. She warned the youth about feeling too down on themselves or becoming so busy with other activities they don’t have time for the spiritual.
Boyack quoted a general conference talk by Elder Kevin W. Pearson, saying, “Discouragement and distraction are two of Satan’s most effective tools, but they are also bad habits.”
Finally, Boyack commented on how the world is continually getting darker. A few decades ago, the movie “Gone with the Wind” shocked the audience with i’s undignified grammar. Now it’s considered tame.
“Satan has turned the dimmer switch darker and darker,” Boyack said. “We must fight for our freedom.”
Boyack provided four easy ways to combat Satan’s plan. Instead of digesting damage, we should nourish. We should avoid discouragement and learn to love others and ourselves. We can halt distractions by listening to the still small voice and cast out the darkness by emitting light.
“You were sent here because you stepped forward, you were here because you were battle ready, you are here because you’re the brightest and best hope of all God’s children,” she said.