Among the many things I eagerly look forward to in life (like family vacations, children returning from missions, Mariners games, every “next meal,” the opening night of really good movies…) is General Conference. I sometimes find myself between conferences counting the number of weeks to the next one. I love hearing the talks. I love feeling what I feel. And I particularly enjoy the messages from each of the twelve apostles.
As this weekend approached, the thought occurred to me to do a bunch of live tweeting to my army of Twitter followers during conference. That seemed a little weird, though. Instead, I decided to take a cue from Tim’s lesson to the YSAs last Thursday on preparing for conference and blog about it instead.
So here, in bullet format, are the things that resonated with me the most from conference. (This is not intended to be a play-by-play recap, but rather a few points that were especially meaningful to me.) Your list will, no doubt, be different than mine. That’s one of the beautiful things about hearing messages from dozens of inspired church leaders: we can all hear what we need to hear and we can each receive private and personal inspiration. I’d love to hear what words or messages resonated with you.
- I was particularly struck by two concepts raised by Elder Holland. First, he quoted the Savior saying that if our eye offends us we should pluck it out and if our hand offends us we should cut it off. I am reminded that the JST teaches that our eyes and hands are our friends and family. And I am reminded that we must be very careful regarding the level of influence that we grant to others. (Elder Hales also taught that we must be careful who we follow.) Second, he said that the Savior taught vigorously both the concept that we must be generous in our forgiveness of others and that we ought never condone sin. We must be careful about the sinner and the sin.
- I thought it was interesting for a member of the General Relief Society presidency to address pornography. I assume that is because of its horrible impact on wives and families, though there are many good reasons we should all be concerned about it, to be sure.
- Elder Anderson spoke of whirlwinds as challenges that help us grow. Elder Bednar spoke of “loads” that help us get spiritual traction. Muscles grow through resistance; spirits through opposition.
- There is divine purpose in the delayed positive consequences of good decisions and the delayed negative consequences of bad decisions to help us exercise faith (President Eyring).
- Elder Nelson: 50 million people can be wrong and we need to get used to being more starkly in the minority. Our response needs to be to let our faith more starkly show.
- Interesting that both Elder Hales and Elder Perry focused on obedience.
- Quentin L. Cook: we need to emphasize family history and ordinance work with young single adults.
- It’s probably not right to have favorites, but I always love Elder Oaks’ messages and speaking style. Notable ideas (to me) from his talk included: the presiding councils of the Church are not authorized to change the pattern of priesthood offices being held exclusively by men; women acting in their callings act with priesthood authority; the topic of responsibilities should get more play and the topic of rights should get less; quoting J. Reuben Clark: the role of women is as important as the priesthood, itself; and both men and women are endowed with the same priesthood power in the temple.
- I enjoyed Elder Hallstrom’s comments about claims of “that’s just the way I am” being an unnecessary, unproductive, and premature admission of defeat.
- Both Elder Hallstrom and President Uchtdorf spoke in the priesthood session of manhood and addressed selfishness, service/priorities, worthiness/addiction, and Christlike attributes. President Eyring also addressed aspects of manhood, including service and a profound commitment to honesty.
- I enjoyed hearing President Uchtdorf talk about the restoration being an ongoing event and emphasizing that we believe that many great and important things are yet to be revealed.
- President Uchtdorf’s talk about gratitude this morning was a game-changer. Replacing gratitude for things with gratitude as a disposition, a way of life, in whatever circumstances we find ourselves… This feels right! While it is OK to identify and be grateful for blessings, perhaps catching myself thinking of gratitude for things is a chance to check that my gratitude is, additionally, also independent of those things. If Nephi “praised him all the day long” (and Paul and Silas also sang praises while in chains in prison), I can do much better in this area!
- Saturday evening I said to myself, “We haven’t yet heard a talk on missionary work!” And then I immediately thought, “We haven’t yet heard from Elder Ballard!” Well, sure enough, Elder Ballard, who God sent to ensure I am never comfortable (among other, better reasons), spoke on that topic which pierces my soul every six months more than any other. I’ve got to do better with missionary work!!
- President Monson reminds me (as I’ve been reminded numerous times to too-little avail) that I need to see everyone properly—as a child of God and brother or sister—and that I need to see them with empathy and compassion and be kind. If I could just be more kind to everyone for heaven’s sake!!
- I could not help but get excited to hear that Elder Corbridge would be speaking, since he gave a few years ago what has become my all-time favorite conference talk. It makes sense that he would follow up his powerful testimony of the Savior with a powerful testimony of Joseph Smith, careful to place Joseph and the Savior in their proper relationship. Again, I enjoyed his style very much. And I enjoyed his list of eleven (by my count) key teachings that uniquely came to light through the Prophet.
Now, to try to become a better person and not let these ten hours fail to change me…