Wednesday, October 7, 2009

General Conference Leftovers

I don't know that I've ever really blogged at length about General Conference. I think I usually just mention it in passing, but this most recent one felt really significant to me for whatever reason. The following are just a few of the things that I took away from the weekend's messages:
  • I don't think there could have been a better way to start off conference than by having Elder Scott talking about revelation and how to receive communication from God. It just seemed to setup everything that would come thereafter. This is a subject that has been at the forefront of my mind for the last year or two - receiving and interpreting revelation. I just realized something funny about this talk, too. One of the points that he makes is to write everything down, pray and ponder, and keep present the impressions that you receive, and of course, I was writing all of this down. However, I seemed to have lost momentum over the course of the weekend because while reviewing my notes, I don't really have anything from the Sunday sessions written down. I know that there were several things that stuck out to me from those sessions, but for the life of me I can't remember them. Dang it.
  • I don't know what made me think of this memory, it might have been something from Elder Bednar's talk. I never learned so much about and had a greater appreciation for prayer than I did in the mission, but some of my most favorite prayers were while I was companions with Elder Lincoln Purcell. Incidentally, if anyone has any idea who he is, I would love to get in contact with him. He was my favorite by far. Anyway, in the mission we'd have companionship prayer at least twice a day, or three times a day, something like that. It was probably more, actually, but I never laughed during prayers as much as I did with him. It was a common occurrence for one of us to start giggling at something the other had said during a prayer, and have to get up from kneeling and leave the room in order to control the laughter. That might seem irreverent, and I'm sure that to a certain extent it is, but there are few people that I ever felt closer to than I did with Elder Purcell. I would step in front of a bus for him, I love him that much.
  • I loved how much emphasis there seemed to be (at least to me) on doing the right thing because it's the right thing, and not out of some fear of punishment or looking for reward. Along these lines, I thought Elder Christofferson's talk about moral discipline was one of my favorites from the weekend. I loved his emphasis on the fact that we need internal motivators, not external restraints, to maintain character on us as individuals and collectively as a society. Loved that talk.
  • I love President Uchtdorf's optimism, and is there anyone in the church who would be better qualified to speak about hope and being resolute than someone who personally experienced Nazi Germany, and grew up in a rebuilding Europe? I loved his talk about not allowing ourselves to become discouraged.
  • Recently a friend of mine had a post on taking offense. At first glance I agreed with one of the sentiments that he was expressing - that you can't tell people what is or isn't offensive to them. But President Monson's talk from priesthood session about anger made me rethink that position. Last year in one of my classes I had a professor talking about anger and agency. So often you hear the expression, "you make me so angry," and in that expression of anger people label themselves a passive object rather than a moral agent. Although you can't choose your initial reaction, you choose what feelings you allow to dwell in your heart. I feel like too often I have been hearing people say things like "well I can't help the way that I feel." BS. While it might take time to get ourselves to a point where we feel or don't feel certain things, we ultimately choose the feelings we allow to persist - happy/sad, love/hate, etc. My mission president had a quote up in the mission office from Brigham Young that said, "he who takes offense when none is intended is a fool; he who takes offense none offense is intended, is also usually a fool."
  • It shouldn't surprise me, but it does every time - I'm always amazed at how elevated my thoughts become when I watch conference. It's the same thing when I'm in church or I'm studying the scriptures, and no doubt that it's just the operation of the spirit. Anyway, I just think it's cool that my thoughts can crystallize more easily and with greater depth when I engage in these kinds of things than when I'm doing anything else. And I take that as evidence of the spirit fulfilling its mission and testifying to me of truth, and bringing things to my remembrance. I love it.
So that was my conference weekend in a nutshell. I hope to set some goals to achieve by the next conference, and we'll see how that goes.

Until next time, friends.

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