I just wanted to post about some of my favorite things from General Conference this last weekend. I love Conference weekend, there’s not much that’s better than getting to snuggle up on the couch and listen to the prophet and apostles and church leaders. I always come away reinvigorated, recommitted and excited to live the gospel. I usually spend conference with my laptop on and tweeting the quotes that touch me at the time. I feel like I process the talks differently as I’m searching for those little 140 character nuggets and it’s good to type them out and read them because it adds another sensory method. But I wanted to write down some of the thoughts that I’d had that couldn’t fit in that 140 character limit. So, here they are –
I especially loved the Saturday morning session. I felt like the whole session focused on self-awareness and improvement. I loved the talk by Elder Lawrence, “What lack I yet?”. I thought it was a good reminder that regardless of who we are or how far we’ve come there are more things that we can be doing to improve ourselves. The thought I tweeted during his talk was, “Are you brave enough to ask ‘What lack I yet?’.” I think it’s a profound question and one that we should be asking often. The Lord is aware of our shortcomings and is willing and anxious to help us overcome them. I usually feel like I’m pretty aware of my shortcomings and have plenty to work on without needing the Lord to take me down a notch. But perhaps it’s still better to ask the Lord so that He can direct me to the most important shortcoming for me to work on, or ways I should be tackling those shortcomings. I also really liked Elder Cook’s talk about being “Shipshape and Bristol fashion”. That analogy really stuck with me, that we might often think that we’ve got things under control, but we need to be ready to still be under control even when the conditions are less than ideal. I thought that went with, what I felt was, the whole theme of that session.
I was mostly looking at my computer screen while President Monson was talking (listening to the talk of course, just taking notes) and I didn’t notice at first when he started to slump. My first hint that something was going on was my mom saying something like, “oh man, President Monson looks like he’s going to fall over.” I of course then looked up and watched in horror as he slowly sunk lower and lower on the podium. Everyone of course was concerned but I thought there was a really powerful object lesson there. I was impressed with how quickly at the end of his talk there were people at his side to help him back to his seat. What I didn’t realize at the time was that the people who were helping him were his bodyguard, and President Uchtdorf. It really has touched me to read the accounts of President Uchtdorf sitting at the edge of his seat and swooping in as quickly as possible to help President Monson. To me it shows just what his attitude is towards our prophet. Surely he would have known that there are ushers, bodyguards and other able bodied people who would rush to our prophet’s aid. But I think it speaks to the close personal connection between those men that President Uchtdorf wouldn’t just sit back and let someone else take care of it, but that he was right there. I think it’s a reminder that these men aren’t just some executives who are detached from each other and will let others do the work, but that they’re servants to the Lord, and are willing to serve one another too. I also thought it was a great example of what it means to be a counselor – whether in the First presidency or the Beehive presidency it shows that you do whatever you can to support your president and be there for them. I was really touched by that whole vignette that played out.
I latched on to the Ponderize concept that Elder Durrant introduced. Judging from my Facebook newsfeed I’m not alone. I think that was an easy one for many people to latch onto because it’s something that is a simple, measurable goal. The basic concept was to pick a scripture each week and ponder on it and try to memorize it during the week. For me, it ties into something I was told in my patriarchal blessing about memorizing important scriptures and studying them – this gave me a really solid way to do that. It might not have been the most important takeaway, but it’s one that I can easily say “yes I’m doing this” and I think we all like that feeling of accomplishment from being able to check a box 🙂 I will admit though that I cringed a lot at his made up word on behalf of the translators that were trying to put this into another language and thinking “what on earth do I do with this word!?!?” Especially as he went on to use that word 12 times, and turned it into a noun (ponderizer) and used the past tense (ponderized). Seriously, there was probably a way to convey the concept without throwing the translators under the bus. But that’s what you think about when you’ve worked as a technician and have a degree in Linguistics 😛 Eric and I are working on this challenge together. We decided to start our list by using the scripture masteries that have been added to the seminary curriculum since we graduated 12 years ago. This week our scripture is 2 Nephi 25:23,26. I found a great poster from The Mormon Home and have put copies of the scripture in our shower, on our mirror, above Eric’s desk and on the bulletin board in our kitchen. I really need to make it the wallpaper on my phone though or something like that though too.
As a mother I of course bawled through Elder Holland’s talk, “Behold Thy Mother”. I feel like nothing has made me feel closer to the Savior than being a mother. To think of the Savior loving me like I love my children – except perfectly, unlike my love for my children – is so overwhelming I can’t begin to describe it. Especially knowing that Christ knows perfectly all of my faults and weaknesses, and *still* loves me as He does is beyond my comprehension. It of course also made me think of my own mother and other mothers I’ve seen in their struggles with their children. The whole talk was just such a beautiful tribute to the power of the Atonement and motherhood – it was beautiful. I can’t say what he said any better, or really add to it in any way. If you haven’t read/listened/watched that talk yet – you should do that right now. I always look forward to Elder Holland’s talks, but I always start thinking that I’ve gotten myself too pumped up – that I need to simmer down, it can’t *always* be as good as I’ve built up his talks in my mind. But, I was wrong – I can’t seem to get myself so pumped up for Elder Holland’s talks that the actual talk is a let down. There’s something about the way he speaks that’s so direct, and simple yet expounds things that are so complex with such feeling – every time I feel like I leave with a well overflowing with revelation. I love that each of the apostles has their own style of speaking and different ways of making their points, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say that Elder Holland’s talks weren’t generally favorites.
When the new apostles were called I will admit that I’d been hoping to add some ethnic diversity to the quorum. Obviously I knew whoever was called was who was supposed to be called, but it would be nice if the leadership of our global church reflected a little more the diversity of that church. However as I’ve watched these men in just the few short days, I can say that I know that their calling is of God. As I’ve read about their backgrounds I can see that even though they look like 3 old white men from Utah, there is a diversity in their backgrounds and experiences which the Lord needed at this time. I think there’s also something good about them being of a similar culture to the men they’ll be serving with as I think it will make it easier for them to communicate the needs that they observe in their different capacities without having to fight cultural barriers. Obviously the spirit can break through all those things so I don’t think that’s a necessary thing, I just can see that it is probably easier to serve in that capacity if your English is already excellent etc. Hopefully that doesn’t sound racist, I do still hope to see more and more of the church leadership coming from diverse backgrounds in the future, but I am also seeing how these men were the ones needed right now. In particular I was interested to see that Elder Renlund’s wife was a working mom. I think that there are a lot of moms within the church who work outside the home and I can understand how they might feel alienated. I think that having an apostle whose wife chose a professional career will help those women to feel more represented and understood.
From the Women’s Session I loved President Uchtdorf’s talk “A Summer with Great Aunt Rose”. I think one of the great things about it was that he really just told us a parable and left it to us to pull the message out for ourselves. I think it was a story that we could all picture so clearly. I liked the honesty of Great Aunt Rose in telling about the depression and the hard times, I think it showed that anyone could choose their attitude towards life regardless of their personal circumstances. I liked the quote, “God didn’t design us to be sad. He created us to have joy!” I think sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the negative parts of life, but remembering that the Lord wants us to be happy helps me to think on the positive side of life.
Ok, one last thing. I really liked Sister Stephens’ talk and the story she told about the car seat battle she’d had with her granddaughter. Oh how I can relate to trying to reason with strong willed children! When she told of her granddaughter’s response of “Grandma, you want me to wear my seat belt because you love me!” I started to cry immediately. I understand exactly that. I remember the first time I realized that the commandments were given to us not just as some arbitrary test to prove our love to God, but that they were a manifestation of God’s love for us! Just like I tell my kids to wear seat belts because I love them and don’t want them to get hurt – the Lord gives us commandments because he loves us and wants us to be safe from the dangers of bad choices we might make. Just like the barriers in Elder Keetch’s talk kept the surfers from being eaten by sharks, the commandments are there to help us be happy and enjoy life – not to ruin it.
Alright, I’ve gone on long enough. Those were a few of my favorite moments from General Conference. I’m excited to study the talks more in depth over the coming months. What were your favorite parts of General Conference?