Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Conference Thoughts

Last weekend was my church's semi-annual General Conference. General Conference was a hugely uplifting and motivating event for me this year. I'd like to spend a few posts sharing and discussing my feelings about some of the talks that were given during this marvelous weekend.

For those not familiar with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, General Conference is held on the first weekend of April and October each year. There are five 2-hour sessions: Saturday Morning, Saturday Afternoon, Saturday Evening Priesthood Session (for men and boys age 12 and up), Sunday Morning, and Sunday Afternoon. On the last Saturday of September is the General Relief Society Meeting for women, and the last Saturday of March is the Young Women General Meeting for girls age 12 and up and their mothers and leaders.

Each session is filled with music and inspirational talks chosen from among the Church's general authorities. For members of the church, it is a time to listen to our living prophets and hear God's specific instructions through them.

General Conference (GC for short - since I'm lazy) is like a buffet for me; I tend to pick and choose from the talks that are most interesting and personally relevant. Over the years I have come to realize that what I get out of GC is directly related to my spiritual preparation for it. If I am praying and studying the scriptures, I have a much more fulfilling and positive experience with GC than if I am just coasting along, neglecting those very most basic principles that invite tutoring by the Holy Ghost.

Last April, GC was kind of a been-there-done-that event. I wasn't reading scriptures or praying regularly (more on that later), and therefore wasn't really prepared for the feast that was available to me. All the talks sounded much the same; just more humdrum "do better" and "beware the world" ... frankly I don't remember much. I watched because A) we always watch/listen, and B) it was the first GC since President Hinckley had died and we had a new President to sustain. I remember feeling neutral about President Monson, nothing particularly critical, but nothing amazing either. I had long since gained a testimony of the succession of prophets, and it didn't particularly bother me that I didn't have a huge Witness that Thomas S. Monson was now the Lord's Prophet, Seer, and Revelator for the entire church. It was no surprise, therefore why would I need a witness?

I remember being somewhat interested in some of the talks, bored by most, and downright annoyed by others. I didn't make a great effort to concentrate on all of the sessions. The weekend came and went. I told myself that I would study the talks more carefully in the weeks ahead. I even downloaded mp3 files of all the talks to my computer and mp3 player. And I never listened or read a single one.

This Conference was entirely different. A few weeks ago I began, with the encouragement of a good friend, another attempt to read scriptures everyday and pray at least once per day. It's been making a difference in me. But I didn't realize how much of a difference until GC weekend. Whereas past conferences I've picked a little from the buffet of talks, here a little and there a little, tasting with skepticism and often disappointment, this time I felt like I was gorging on a succulent feast. Nearly every talk had something in it that was delicious to me. My heart felt full to bursting with renewed hope and optimism. It came too fast and furious to take it all in, and I felt an enthusiastic motivation to study the counsel until I could make it part of me.

FYI - the church website has a media player on which you can watch all sessions of GC -- with the exception of the SECRET priesthood session, which has always been odd to me, since it eventually gets published in the Ensign anyway -- and I highly recommend this. It includes all the prayers and music, and you can also skip to the specific talks you'd like to watch. Mp3 audio files are available now at this link, and soon will be followed by written transcripts if you prefer that method of study.

My plan is to share a few thoughts about some of the talks I found most helpful and inspiring. I would love it if you would like to join in and discuss them with me.

7 comments:

Kristina P. said...

This is the first time where I wasn't able to listen to or watch any of Conference. We were out of town for only a couple of days, visiting family we rarely see, and most of them are inactive. I felt it was more important to spend time with them, and read about it later.

Excited to hear what you have to say!

The Crash Test Dummy said...

AMEN to everything you said.

And bring it on, girl!

Mommom said...

It really was a GREAT conference. I feel SO much better and ready to do what needs to be done :)

Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

I felt the same way...but I missed some of Saturday...wasn't happy about it...now I have to wait until it is written on paper...so that I will study it! :)

Kris said...

I would love to talk about it. I really loved the talk on Virtue by the YW Pres. I can completely relate about how prepared we are determines how much we get out of things. This happens to me all the time.

If I am grumpy and the kids are fighty before church, I just endure it. If I bring the Spirit, then it is a joy to attend and I am uplifted. I wish I could just live in a bubble each Sunday Morning.

~pollyanna said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I too felt incredibly fed by conference... I seemed as a thirsty desert that swallowed up every drop of life giving rain. For now my thoughts and feelings about what I learned are all mixed up in some personal and family struggles that I am facing and I am not ready to share them, but I have felt the Lord's love in answering so directly, so many of my prayers, through conference.

hiccups said...

I'm game for this discussion as well. And I totally miss the conference talks discussion activity group I used to go to in my old ward. There were only 3 or 4of us who would go, but we had some spectacularly good conversations. Might be time to use my powers for good and see if there's any interest in doing this in my current ward.