Tuesday, April 6, 2010

My Thoughts on General Conference

General Conference this year, while it was very inspiring, did not provide as much revelation as I expected. I know the persons who spoke last weekend at the Conference Center were inspired by God, but I think their messages this time were to others more than they were to me. For example, a lot of stress was put on parenthood and familial ties. While I know family is always important, I am currently away from any close family ties, and I have no husband and children of my own. So I guess this is information I should probably bank away until a later date. As for questions that are currently pressing on my mind, the speakers really didn't mention them as much as I would have wished. But of course there are many more members of the church out there besides me so I suppose I should just let them get some special guidance once in a while.
I did get some stuff out of Conference, though. And of course I felt the spirit no matter what. Anything that comes from off that pulpit is good stuff to know. So I'll tell you now about some of the impressions I got from each session.
By the way, I was disappointed that Elder Dalin H. Oaks spoke in the preisthood rather than in the general sessions. I simply love this guy, probably my favorite. He's up there with Elders Holland and Uchdorf. But of course I love them all.

Saturday Morning

I felt a lot of stress on womanhood during this first session. First, there was Julie B. Beck's talk on the responsibility of women, and then M. Russell Ballard talked about mother-daughter relationships. As a new member of Relief Society, I felt comfort when listening to Sister Beck's talk because she mentioned how women often are told they need to do everything. But that's not what God is asking us to do; he is asking us to put our trust in the Spirit and do all we can. I also learned from Ballard that I should probably learn more from my mother. Packer stressed the importance of the home as a place of priesthood and spiritual nurturing. I need to remember these talks when I start raising a family of my own.

I also found a lot of stress this session on trials. Both Keith B. McMullin and Wilford W. Andersen talked about what we must do when it looks like the world is falling around us. I especially liked how Elder McMullin talked about DUTY. Duty does not mean we have an option. Duty means we have a responsibility to do what has been asked of us. Even if it's hard, we have the Atonement, and it can strengthen us so that we can endure anything. My favorite talk this session was Brother Andersen's. It was definitely the most optimistic and the one I felt I could apply right away in my life.
Kudos also to Elder Eyring's talk. Once again, I felt like it was directed to older members of the church who are given callings to take care of youth, whether at church or in the home, but I definitely see an application to it in my own life. I need to prepare to help those who need help in staying in the Gospel. There may be some right in front of me that I ignore.

Saturday Afternoon:
Again, there were a couple of talks applying to parenthood. Both L. Tom Perry and David A. Bednar instructed parents in what they could do -- what they should do -- to keep a righteous spirit in the home. Once again, the word DUTY was used. It revitalized my convictions about how society needs good parents. I think a lot of the world's wickedness today could be annulled simply by good education, and parents are a child's first and best teachers. I fear that the rising generation will be doomed because their parents don't know how to teach them correct principles. After this conference, I'm sure many parents will reassess themselves and do a better job.

There's also quite a bit in this conference about serving and reaching out to those in need. Makes sense, since there have been so many disasters in the world these past few months. I refer specifically to Brother Aoyagi's talk. He was hard to understand, but I think the spirit really helped me while I listened to him. He spoke a lot about "helping hands" in the Church -- people who have Christlike charity and love for their fellow men. People need all the help they can get, and it would be utterly embarrassing to see Christ's church not play their full part. D. Todd Christopherson also gave an interesting talk about the importance of the scriptures and how we are so blessed to have them. Very glad he reminded me of that, because I'm getting a little bored with my scriptures these days.

My favorite talk this session was Elder Holland's. His kind of came out of nowhere. (Holland is pretty good at surprising his listeners.) And of all the talks in conference, this was the one I think I needed the most. I felt like he was talking to me. He talks about the beginning stages of sin -- in this case, sexual sin -- and what we can do to nip iniquity in the bud. I really needed to hear the words "Turn it off. Walk out. Sever the relationship. Run as far away as you can." Right now in my life I'm flirting with disaster in a lot of ways, and I have recomitted now to keep myself FAR AWAY from bad influence. It's an addiction, but I'm going to break my bad habits before they get the best of me. I also loved his words about the difference between love and lust. They are totally true. Pornography brings about lustful thoughts. There is no love in it whatsoever. It is selfish, harmful to the spirit, and harmful to the mind. I cannot understand why anyone would think otherwise. Amen, Elder Holland!
Sunday Morning

My New Testament teacher helped me realized just how great this session was. It was on Easter Sunday, so of course there was a big emphasis on Christ and his Atonement. Sometimes I go to conference hoping to hear something new. Specific doctrines, revelations, and teachings that I haven't heard before. You hear testimonies of Christ all the time and regretably I get bored by them. How many times have I heard from my leaders that Christ was the Savior of the world? Too many to count. But it's for a good reason! It is the most important thing I can know. MOST IMPORTANT. Of course people are saying it all the time; people need to be CONSTANTLY reminded of Christ's love and infinite sacrifice for our sins. This is not light and fluffy, either. This is a HARD CORE and INTENSE thing that Christ did for us. He suffered for all of our sins -- the most abominable ones we could imagine. He felt the worst feelings -- millions of times worse than anything we ever could feel. He saved us from death, misery, punishment, guilt, hell. Of course we have to talk about it! So Richard G. Scott and Quentin L. Cook hit it right on the nose this conference. Elder Cook said something that hit me really hard in particular. I shouldn't forget this conference. I shouldn't go and have a really spiritual weekend and then forget all about it when I go back to school on Monday. Christ deserves better than that. I should be thinking about him and following his example every day of my life. Thomas S. Monson topped it off with a wonderfully enthusiastic and optimistic talk about the great blessings of life that Christ gives us. Yeah, we sin. Yeah, Christ suffered, but he also LIVES. And we can live again because of it. Death is no longer something to be feared for me.

Brother Donald L. Hallstrom and Dieter F. Uchdorf both talked about our relationships with other people, particularly those in the church. In particular, we're supposed to remember the worth of souls and not let offense keep us from enjoying the blessings of the Gospel. This I had to hear. I'm really not a very serving person. I am a little too self-oriented. My pride keeps me from helping people and I often seek revenge rather than restitution. Bad Hannah! That's keeping the Spirit away! I gotta be more like Abraham and Simri -- I gotta obtain that unadulterated, unmitigated love for my fellow men that blesses everyone: Me, the people I'm serving, and the people who watch me serve.

Then, as it has been for almost the entirety of conference so far, we had Sister Lant come and talk about teaching our children. Good for her. (I did not mean that sarcastically. It really is GOOD for her. She was, after all, primary president.)

Sunday Afternoon

We got another dosage of leadership advice from Robert D. Hales. Once again, he stressed the importance of keeping the spirit of the home. I was kind of getting the idea by the time his talk came around. I kind of feel sorry for him because so many other previous speakers stole his thunder. But his was, I think, the most general and up-front advice. Just be a good example. That's how kids really learn. Just before Elder Hales, Russell M. Nelson talked about family history -- our families that have passed on. Immediately after Hales, Bradley D. Foster then talked about mothers -- how we should follow their example. All their talks went so well together. THEN we had Francisco J. Vinas and Neil L. Anderson who talked about some specific things we can teach children. I really gotta bank all this information for when I have my own kids. Glad I took copious notes.

I really liked Gregory Schweitzer's talk. I like talks that talk about how we can change our THOUGHTS, not just our BEHAVIORS, and this was a talk pretty much all about thoughts. It was about judging righteous judgements. We can only do it if our thoughts are centered around the Gospel. So we need to recommit ourselves to the words of the prophets, the scriptures, and the Spirit (the Holy Ghost was mentioned a TON in this conference). James Martino's talk, I think, was the best of the whole day for me. He taught how we can learn how to handle trial through Christ. I already mentioned this, but Christ went through everything we could ever go through. So he is, naturally, our best example -- our perfect example. He didn't complain, he wasn't lazy, and he always thought of others first.

Now that I've written all this, I realize I got more out of Conference than I thought. Can't wait till October to hear more good stuff.

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