Making the General Specific

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I have spent every hour since the concluding hymn contemplating last weekend’s General Conference, chewing over the words and welcomes we received. Elder Robert D. Hales, who was the first speaker at the Saturday morning session reminded us of two vital aspects in benefiting from General Conference.

First, he said, (quoting President Kimball), “What is said is not as important as what we hear and what we feel.”

Elder Hales also said, “The greatest blessings of general conference come to us after the conference is over. Remember the pattern recorded frequently in scripture: we gather to hear the words of the Lord, and we return to our homes to live them.”

Post-conference, I found myself hearing and feeling all sorts of things – a yin and yang chatter fest. I decided that one good way I could process conference beneficially was to go through each talk sussing out my own uplifting take-aways from each message.

Following the Kimball/Hales “hearing and feeling” principle, I structured my exercise this way:
1. I limited myself to two or three resonant quotes from each address.
2. The quotes I chose didn’t need to relate to what I thought the main message of the talk was supposed to be; just ones that buoyed me. This was about “likening the [conference talks] unto myself.”

For the sake of appropriate blog post word count etiquette, I won’t share all of my highlights with you. I’m just sharing samples from the Saturday sessions. So here are some passages meaningful to me. They many not be what you would have selected. I’m curious to know what your “heard” and “felt” and how you find ways to make conference enriching.
“Do We Know What We Have?” by Carole M. Stephens
“[P]riesthood ordinances and covenants provide access to the fullness of the blessings promised to us by God, which are made possible by the Savior’s Atonement. They arm sons and daughters of God with power, God’s power, and provide us with the opportunity to receive eternal life….”
“[S]isters who don’t have priesthood holders in their homes need never feel alone. They are blessed and strengthened through the ordinances they have received and the covenants they keep.”
“Look Ahead and Believe” by Elder Edward Dube
“The Lord through His servants calls us to serve in various callings. [We] know, as our forebearers knew, that “in the service of the Lord, it is not where you serve but how” (J. Reuben Clark Jr., in Conference Report, Apr. 1951, 154).”
“We too can look ahead and believe. We can embrace the invitation of our Lord, who with stretched-open hands invites us: Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matthew 11:28-30)
“Come, Join with Us” by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
“We see baptism as the starting point in our journey of discipleship. Our daily walk with Jesus Christ leads to peace and purpose in this life and profound joy and eternal salvation in the world to come. The poor in spirit and honest of heart find great treasures of knowledge here. Those who suffer or grieve find healing here. Those burdened with sin find forgiveness, liberty, and rest.”
“One might ask, ‘If the gospel is so wonderful, why would anyone leave?’ Sometimes we assume it is because they have been offended or lazy or sinful. Actually, it is not that simple. In fact, there is not just one reason that applies to the variety of situations.”
“Come and add your talents, gifts, and energies to ours. We will all become better as a result. Brothers and sisters, dear friends, we need your unique talents and perspectives. The diversity of persons and peoples all around the globe is a strength of this Church.”
“The Moral Force of Women” by D. Todd Christofferson
“Sisters, of all your associations, it is your relationship with God, your Heavenly Father, who is the source of your moral power, that you must always put first in your life. Remember that Jesus’s power came through His single-minded devotion to the will of the Father.”
“By praising and encouraging the moral force in women, I am not saying that men and boys are somehow excused from their own duty to stand for truth and righteousness, that their responsibility to serve, sacrifice, and minister is somehow less than that of women or can be left to women. Brethren, let us stand with women, share their burdens, and cultivate our own companion moral authority.”
“Hastening the Lord’s Game Plan!” by S. Gifford Nielsen – I know I’m pushing the word limit but, being a nerd, I am fond of punctuation marks, and I love how he found spiritual significance in one of my favorites.
“When I’m emotionally charged about something, it shows in my writing and often ends in an exclamation point that by definition conveys a “strong feeling [or an] indication of major significance”. I became intrigued as scriptures about “the gathering” which ended with this punctuation mark started popping up, like Alma’s heartfelt plea: “O that I were an angel, and could have the wish of mine heart, that I might go forth and speak with the trump of God, with a voice to shake the earth, and cry repentance unto every people!” (Alma 29:1)
“I add my testimony to that of the Prophet Joseph Smith: “And now, after the many testimonies which have been given of him, this is the testimony, last of all, which we give of him: That he lives!” (D&C 76:22)

This is a good rigorous exercise! I heartily endorse it! (Anymore exclamation points needed?)

About Linda

(Prose Board) splits her time between the mountains of Utah and the prairies of Illinois, generally confounding the postal service. She compiles inspiring collections of LDS women talking about topics dear to (or prickly in) LDS women's hearts (visiting teaching, Relief Society, motherhood, etc.) through Cedar Fort Publishing. Her latest is "Muffins & Miracles: Church Service in the Real World." She also writes for children ("Come with Me on Halloween"), illustrates, writes poetry, plays with fabric and can be bribed with dark chocolate.

3 thoughts on “Making the General Specific

  1. I find it helpful to both take notes at the time of Conference and to go back and read/study the talks. Often I find that what I thought at the time or what stood out to me while listening feels different when I am reading it. Two things (out of many) from this Conference:

    1. My kids were with their dad on Saturday and only spent Sunday watching with me. But, they are fairly young and trying to watch and comprehend all of Conference really is too much to expect anyways. So before conference started I was already pondering ways to study it with them afterwards. Then Elder Hales started things off with his talk and I realized that we could study conference talks in Family Home Evening for the next few months. I’m excited to try this with my kids (they are 10, 7, and 3) and hope we get something valuable out of it. We started with our first lesson last Sunday night focusing on Elder Hales’ talk–we discussed some of the scripture examples he gives, talked about the history of General Conference and why we have it, and watched a clip from his talk.

    2. Elder Holland’s talk was really great for me. I have had trouble with depression and anxiety in the past, and lately have been under a lot of stress again. His talk was a gentle reminder to me that the Lord cares about my mental health, wants me to make it a priority, and will help me take care of myself if I invite Him to.

  2. Here is another essay on the topic by Deja Earley from “Exploring Sainthood.”http://exploringsainthood.org/using-general-conference-to-heal-from-general-conference/

  3. Linda, I’m looking forward to using the Kimball/Hales approach as I read each of the talks over the coming months. Thanks for sharing–I’m always looking for ways to enrich and refresh my studies.

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