General Conference: Feeling Tossed on the Old Ship Zion

life-preserver

For the most part I’m a fan of General Conference. I like to spend Saturdays working on a project, headphones on and hearing counsel and stories about the gospel. Sundays I turn it on in the kitchen and try to listen as I simultaneously instruct the kids on the proper way to make frijoles or corn chowder or whatever yumminess we’ll eat during the break between session. Sunday afternoon is spent in a food coma in the basement, drifting in and out of sleep as I recline on the futon. Some talks I like. Some bug me. But I usually walk away a little more committed and renewed. But this past weekend, I felt pulled in two different directions and I’m a little queasy as a result.

My favorite speaker is always Jeffrey Holland. I love his intelligence. I love his relationship with his wife Pat (she is his equal, not his “sweet companion”) and that comes out in how he talks about and to women. I love that he always has a thesis and sticks with it (English major here). His Saturday afternoon talk focused on how the Savior’s first “messianic call” was to care for the poor. “The great Redeemer has issued no more persistent call than for us to join him in lifting this heavy burden from the people.” He really hit home our duty to “seek opportunities to care for the poor.” Aside from fast offerings, he promised that God “will guide you in compassionate acts of discipleship if you are conscientiously wanting and praying and looking for ways to keep a commandment He has given us again and again.”

And other talks made reference to serving in our communities and as communities. I delighted in hearing Elder Wong talk (in Cantonese!!) about the absolute need to “Rescue in Unity.” “We can all help one another,” he said. “We should always be anxiously engaged in seeking to rescue those in need. … When we assist (Jesus Christ) in his mission of saving souls, we too will be rescued in the process.” I felt the truth of their admonitions. As I say to my teenage son who no longer identifies as Mormon, “I don’t care as much if you believe in Christ as I do that you act like Christ.”

But there was another theme: the need to put family gospel study first. This was referenced many times, most particularly by Elder Scott who focused on the necessity of making one’s family the center of all our efforts. On Sunday afternoon he spoke of four tools. And here is where I started to feel guilty. And stressed. And confused. But don’t mistake my anxiety as disapproval or dislike because I actually believe in the benefits of his four tools:

1)   Family Prayer morning and night is “nonnegotiable priority in daily life, more important than sleep, school, media…”

2)   Scripture Study as a family, same as above

3)   FHE needs to be every Monday night and nothing, not “employment, sports, homework” should stand in the way.

4)   Attend the Temple.

I kinda wanted to cry, because as a SAHM who is actively trying to raise her family in the gospel, I WANT these things in my life. I TRY to do these things but fail. Majorly. Especially if the standard for success is Every. Single. Day. Twice. Whatever happened to the lovely vagueness of the word “regular?”  Regular prayer and scripture study are goals I can live with. But nonnegotiable rocks my boat, because I cannot prioritize my family as Scott urges and also serve those around me in the way Holland envisions.

As I listened to Elder Scott, I started to picture two versions of Elder Ballard’s “Old Ship Zion.” One ship is large, filled with many souls. Sometimes I have to leave my kids on the poop deck to go into the galley and wash dishes or play shuffleboard with a widow who desperately needs the company. Scriptures are not always studied because my time and attention are spent elsewhere, mending sails and swabbing decks. But my kids are learning to work and serve as well. Yet when I think of Scott’s focus on shoring up my family, I see me and my kids on a small boat, a dinghy of sorts. The only way I can make those four tools a regular part of our lives is to isolate ourselves. Become the Swiss Family Robinson. If I am going to make it happen, I cannot pull other people onto my boat.

I freely admit that my life is better when I have managed to make prayer and scriptures a regular part of our lives. There is a peace. But there is also a price. Because FHE is not simply 4o minutes on Monday night. It means meals and homework and lessons and projects all have to be dealt with ahead of time, often at great cost. It means preparing a spiritual message that a 17 year old and an 8 year old will listen to. And nobody’s mad, but all those tasks usually fall on the woman’s shoulders. So as Elder Scott talks about the peace brought by these tasks, I feel a little resentful because if any of it is going to happen, the tasks will be mine and mine alone. It ain’t right, but that’s how it is for me and most of the women I know. So we hear this counsel, and we want the benefits but just don’t know if we are capable of paying the price. What (or who) will we have to toss overboard to keep our family afloat?

I am torn because I know I cannot heed both orders. I cannot serve in my ward and community, as I love to, as Holland and Wong urge us to, if my days are filled with nonnegotiable obligations. If I go out in the evening for a lecture, exercise, visiting teachings, service, then family prayers and scriptures will not happen.

And here is where I miss Chieko Okazaki. If she were around she would be tossing me a life vest, and a Diet Coke, telling me that of course I cannot do it all. She might say this: “[Heather], I think that many Mormon women do not have clear boundaries for themselves. They feel a sense of confusion about who they are, because many competing voices lay claim to them and they try to accommodate them all…. Remember, a boundary has ‘yes’ on one side and ‘no’ on the other. A woman who never feels that she can say ‘no’ is lacking an important element of personal identity and, hence, personal safety. A woman who also feels that she can never say ‘yes’ has an equally serious problem in her inability to move beyond her own boundaries.” (https://ojs.lib.byu.edu/spc/index.php/…/article/download/391/369)

So I come away from General Conference with lots to think about: my role as a mother, a sister, a friend, a disciple, a part of a community. I know I will have to find my own answers, my own balance. Choices will be made and I will live with the consequences. Ultimately it is Elder Uchtodorf words that provide a lifeline: “We are all pilgrims, seeking God’s light as we journey on the path of discipleship.” And in my quiet moments, I can almost see the sun on the horizon.

 

How do you reconcile what feel like conflicting admonitions from Church leaders?  What talks felt like life preservers? What make you feel like walking the plank? 

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41 Responses

  1. We should view the invitations in general conference as an opportunity to seek personal revelation on the suggestions made, and know how to implement them in our own lives. Not every suggestion will apply perfectly. The Gospel contains an internal tension between the call to be perfect and the acknowledgement of our short comings. The enabling power of the atonement is the power that allows us to rise above and do better.

  2. Erin Whitney says:

    I view General Conference, and anything in the church or the scriptures or the Ensign or anything, really, the way the drunks do: “Take what you need and leave the rest.”

    If you are doing your best, and something doesn’t apply to you, know that it is okay to let it go.

    If it doesn’t fit you, it isn’t yours to worry about.

  3. Petra says:

    “And nobody’s mad, but all those tasks usually fall on the woman’s shoulders.”

    I didn’t read the byline at first but when I read this I knew it was you. <3

    • Heather says:

      Oh Petra, I know I’m transparent! That’s why I have a few AWESOME stories that I can never blog about–even if I used a pseudonym. I could never be anonymous!

  4. Em says:

    My own take on general conference is that usually only a few small messages stick out at me (often from Elders Uchtdorf or Holland…) and that is what I try to remember, work on and reread. Every speaker has something they say that I could apply and change but frankly I also have a job, a calling, my family as well as a few hobbies of my own. Even when I was a missionary and had all day every day to try to be better spiritually it just wasn’t feasible to change everything at once. So I figure Heavenly Father wants me to work on the things that stood out to me. Hopefully they will become habits that grow easy over time so that next time around I can try to add something new without jettisoning the old.

    Your analogy of the dinghy makes me think of a childhood memory. Our family had some property by a lake and an old wooden boat had been sitting exposed for years. My dad had a strong emotional attachment to it and so he decided to take it across the lake to our boathouse. So he tied it to the back of our functional rowboat and had me and my brother (in lifejackets) sit in the old boat and bail for all we were worth, since it was by no means seaworthy. As a kid it was scary even though we were really in no danger. All things considered, I will pass on any “old” ships. 🙂 I’m more comfortable with the large well-appointed seaworthy with lifeboats version of Zion.

  5. Anna says:

    “…but all those tasks usually fall on the woman’s shoulders”

    If this is truly the case, then your husband needs to step up. Perhaps he is the one that you need to leave behind.

    Have you told him you want him to step it up? It has been my experience that most women that feel everything is falling on them never mention to their husband that he needs to get off his butt and do this.

    • Heather says:

      Maybe me and all my friends are in the minority, but I cannot think of more than one LDS husband who takes ownership of religious tasks like FHE and scripture study. These are elders quorum presidents and bishops etc but it is the women who make stuff happen. Count yourself blessed if these things are managed by your spouse.

    • rah says:

      As a Mormon guy our lists look just as crowded. I am supposed to
      – provide for my family (on a single income) which requires way more than 40 hours (not counting commute time). Most Mormon men I know work in professional jobs that require 50-60 hours a week to be competitive and provide a middle class lifestype for a family with more than 2 or 3 kids.
      – walk in the door from work and immediately take on the role of a father, helping with dinner, homework, diapers etc. (2 hours a day each weekday)
      – serve in a church calling and answer various service calls (maybe at least 5 hours a week not including the church block and many more if you have a high demand calling)
      – try and maintain an individual relationship with my kids
      – go to the temple regularly
      – try and stay healthy so I will be around and be able to be active with my kids
      – do community service maybe as a soccer coach or whatever
      – Run FHE, family prayer and scripture study every day
      -maintain a healthy relationship with my wife/date night
      – and the list goes on – family history work, support the missionaries etc. etc.

      I know few Mormon guys with family that are callously dumping FHE or Family Prayer or Scripture reading on their wives why they put their feet up. (I am sure there are a few, but mostly we work hard, family hard, church hard and maybe reserve the smallest of time for ourselves. The only way to even try and accomplish a portion of this list is divide and conquer.

      • Emily U says:

        RAH – I hear the frustration in your comment. This is where I think strictly prescribed gender roles hurt men, too. There’s simply too much to do for men and women, both, and I wish someone at General Conference would more often say something like this: “Each family is unique and should work out sharing responsibilities in ways that works for them. Gospel principles will help in getting this done. Pray and ask for help when you get stuck.”

      • AnonForNow says:

        I’m sorry, but this entire post is nothing but a whine-fest. There is plenty of time to get everything done. Its just that most people wont set aside their pet hobbies to get it done.

        If everyone would unplug and get off line a few hours a week they would find all kinds of time.

        I am not saying my life is perfect, but I am saying that it can be done. Most people just don’t want to make it a priority.

        If it is not your priority, just step up and own it. Admit that you are purposely ignoring some stuff in favor of other activities. Don’t sit and whine about how the Church is so demanding. Blaming the Church is just a lame excuse. Choose how you want to live your life and then own it. Stop with the lame excuses.

  6. Liz says:

    I need to do better at taking what works and leaving the rest – I’m inevitably left with a whole bunch of guilt about what I should be doing better and I’m not, and thus I will never measure up. Even as I type it, I know it’s wrong, but that doesn’t change the way I’m left feeling after certain talks.

    Like FHE. I get that it can be an important vehicle to communicate true principles and to get the family together. But it JUST NEVER WORKS. It feels so forced, and I can never remember on Monday because it’s such a crazy day. I clearly need to come up with a template that actually functions in my family, because “everybody sitting in the living room for a prepared message, family conference, and delicious treat afterwards on a Monday night” is NOT working for us. I wonder if there’s some sort of service activity I could set up to do with my family on a dedicated night that we could use as FHE? Use the time in the car to talk to each other and sort out any family issues (like the ever-present reminder to change one’s underwear every single day, even if you’re sure it’s not dirty)? Just thinking out loud here. Sometimes I feel so trapped by the never-ending list of things I’m supposed to do that I end up paralyzed on my couch, not doing any of them, because it’s so overwhelming.

    • Karen says:

      Family Home Evening is hard, but I don’t think Elder Scott’s message told us that we have to have a formal FHE,

      “The structure of your evening is not as important as the time invested. The gospel should be taught both formally and informally. Make it a meaningful experience for each member of the family. Family home evening is a precious time to bear testimony in a safe environment; to learn teaching, planning, and organizational skills; to strengthen family bonds; to develop family traditions; to talk to each other; and more important, to have a marvelous time together!”

      What stood out to me from his words were “structure not as important as time involved” and “more important, to have a marvelous time together.”

      We can do that by playing a game, singing a song, serving our neighbors, sharing a scripture story, making a treat together or what ever works best for your family.

  7. LilyTiger says:

    My mom was feeling particularly overwhelmed in her life at one point, so she just put me in charge of FHE. I was 7. It made me feel so important that I got to be in charge of FHE. I’m sure that I did a terrible job sometimes, but I thought it was great. And everyone else just had to show up. I know it wouldn’t work for every child or family, but in our case putting the child in charge of FHE was a win-win for everyone involved.

  8. muriel says:

    thank you for the insightful and pondering words. And I love the end quote you think your friend would of said…may I take it and share?
    all the best

    • Em says:

      Lilytiger — I love that you called Chieko her friend. She is our friend. In case you didn’t know, she was in the past a counselor in the General Relief Society Presidency, and the quote comes from an article by her called “Boundaries: The Line of Yes and No.” It can be accessed online at the address Heather provided (with a little searching…) So I’m guessing you can go ahead and use any part of her words. 🙂

  9. Kristiina says:

    I’m completely with you on this one, Heather. I’m really trying to make a home where prayer and service and scripture study and loving your neighbor and all those good things are a part of our lives. But when I hear them described in these non-negotiable terms, it just makes me feel heavy and cranky. I know there are families where the parents wake the kids up at 5:30 every morning for hearty cracked wheat cereal and family scripture study, and the kids grow up feeling loved and loyal because of it. But that sort of rigidity just would not work with my kids. No amount of coaxing and kindness would make them see past the militancy, and they would resent me and the church for it.

  10. Stargazer says:

    I don’t know who those people are, who wake up early, etc. etc. I am very content making the effort to do scriptures. Just trying to have it be part of our schedule. Some weeks we miss all but one day. And still, we make progress on where we are in the B of M. My kids keep reminding us. We keep trying. Falling way short is really OK as long as the direction is clear.

  11. Katharine says:

    this didn’t stick out to me when listening to conference, but just in reading your article. notice all the things that aren’t on the list: spotless house, music lessons and sports for the kids, fancy dinner, etc. there is a lot of crap us women put on ourselves unnecessarily and i don’t think the point is to beat ourselves up when we fall short. when tempted to beat myself up, i’m trying to implement the practice of a quick prayer praising God for making up for my shortcomings. my family reads one page of scriptures a day. we miss some days here and there. some families read just a verse at dinner and talk about it. don’t make it into a bigger chore than it has to be. and CERTAINLY don’t beat yourself up.

  12. Julie says:

    We must see the irony on here that says that we don’t have time to pray or read the scriptures when there is time spent on blogging and commenting and reading the Exponent. Do we not see the irony in this?

    Elder Scott, just a few days ago in General Conference, addressed this very thing:

    “Don’t yield to Satan’s lie that you don’t have time to study the scriptures. Choose to take time to study them. Feasting on the word of God each day is more important than sleep, school, work, television shows, video games, or social media. You may need to reorganize your priorities to provide time for the study of the word of God. If so, do it!

    There are many prophetic promises of the blessings of daily studying the scriptures.

    I add my voice with this promise: as you dedicate time every day, personally and with your family, to the study of God’s word, peace will prevail in your life. That peace won’t come from the outside world. It will come from within your home, from within your family, from within your own heart.”

    Please don’t fall int the trap that you’re too busy to do the essential things that we’ve been asked to do by the Savior and His apostles. Instead of blogging or sifting through comments, step away from the computer and choose the scriptures and prayer instead 🙂

    • Emily U says:

      Surely you seen the irony in preaching to others about spending time reading blogs and commenting, when you are doing the same.

      The benefits and pitfalls of the internet could be discussed forever and this isn’t the place for a real discussion about it, but the fact is that modern life is permeated with technology. It’s how we communicate to some extent. Very few would argue that technology should replace human-to-human contact, but to say that a person shouldn’t participate in internet communications until everything else in her life is perfect is ridiculous.

      • JT says:

        No, but if we are writing/reading blog articles/comments about not having 5-10 minutes in a day to read the scriptures and pray, then, well, I agree with Julie on this one. Ironic.

  13. AnonForNow says:

    I’m sorry, but this entire post is nothing but a whine-fest. There is plenty of time to get everything done. Its just that most people wont set aside their pet hobbies to get it done.

    If everyone would unplug and get off line a few hours a week they would find all kinds of time.

    I am not saying my life is perfect, but I am saying that it can be done. Most people just don’t want to make it a priority.

    If it is not your priority, just step up and own it. Admit that you are purposely ignoring some stuff in favor of other activities. Don’t sit and whine about how the Church is so demanding. Blaming the Church is just a lame excuse. Choose how you want to live your life and then own it. Stop with the lame excuses.

    • Em says:

      I think there is some truth, but not much love in what you say. It is true that if all of us made family prayer, FHE and the other principles the top priority in our lives, there would be time for them. If we put them ahead of getting enough rest, ahead of self-care, ahead of things we find beautiful and meaningful, there would always be time, but that doesn’t necessarily make it time well spent. For some people it would be. For others, depending on where they are in their lives, their testimonies etc. it might not be the best approach if it only breeds feelings of inadequacy and failure. What I read from many of the comments here is not that people don’t WANT to have meaningful FHE or other spiritual aspects of their lives. I think most of us are really trying and falling short and feeling frustrated when the ideal is presented as non-negotiable.

      I figure that the Holy Ghost can speak to everyone in the way they need to hear it, but humans are rarely as good. Some Apostles routinely use very strong admonitory language, and many members respond to that language by feeling motivated and empowered. Others, however, feel defeated and frustrated even if they agree with the general content of the message. To me that is the virtue of having so many leaders — while some talks leave me drained and feeling like I can’t do it, others make me feel excited to try anew. Admitting that some messages, even if they are true in principle, do not work for every person on earth is to me a perfectly okay thing to do. God can only work with human people, who aren’t perfect as Elder Holland said. His apostles aren’t perfect and don’t say the perfect thing, and we aren’t perfect either. I think that when we dismiss a cry for help as whining we’re in danger of stomping on the fingers that are desperately clinging to the side of the ship (to use Elder Ballard’s metaphor).

    • Emily U says:

      Anonfornow – Isn’t it interesting how General Conference always includes music, and how Pres. Monson often quotes poetry? The arts, hobbies, and creative endeavors (praised by Pres. Uchtdorf in a conference talk a couple years ago) are what make life whole for many people. Life has many good alternatives, many possible priorities, and it takes real effort to sort through them. There is not time for all of them. The Church asks a lot of us. That’s a good thing. But don’t diminish the real challenge that it is to decide what to specifically include in our lives. It’s not whining to acknowledge that challenge.

    • Heather says:

      Anonfornow-the problem is not enough hours in the day, the problem for me is the scarcity of time when the WHOLE family is together. So family prayer & scripture study tends to be hit and miss and rarely are all 6 of us present. Ditching hobbies and chucking technology won’t change that. And if my post had a time stamp on it, it would read 1AM. I do my writing after the kids are in bed. But I’m sure anything I might reply is simply another “lame excuse.”

  14. Cruelest Month says:

    I would echo the comments of those encouraging adoption of counsel that fits the needs of a family. I loved the statement, “The gospel is not weight; it is wings.” From Jean A. Stevens from the General Primary Presidency. There are so many good things to choose from each day. What gives me wings? What feels like weight? Some days reading the scriptures=wings. Other days I just want to throw my scriptures across the room. Some days reading or commenting on a blog= wings. Some days I want to throw my lap top across the room.
    One size fits all recommendations rarely fit everyone.
    From a child welfare perspective here are some of my most common recommendations for parents: Do not beat your child -physically or emotionally. Do not have sex with your child. Do not abuse drugs or alcohol. Do not leave small children unattended. Ask for help if you can not feed, clothe, or shelter your child.
    ^ Those are the basics of Telestial parenting. Everyone else lay off the guilt.
    I grew up in a home where we followed Elder Scott’s list and also had regular emotional and physical abuse of children. I dreaded General Conference because it was the time of the year I was most likely to receive a terrible beating for no apparent reason other than the 12 hours spent sitting at church taking notes. Sometimes trying too hard to do the right things makes people snap. Thanks Heather for giving people a space to process conflicted feelings about GC. Maybe somewhere four children won’t get a conference beating because their parents took time to read a blog.

  15. Pandora says:

    Heather, thank you so much for your beautiful post. You are so thoughtful in how you show love and understanding to others and to yourself. We are all trying to navigate the complex waters of doing the right thing.

    In reading some of the comments, I keep thinking about the story of Mary and Martha. Who would be who in this discussion? Is Martha the super mom who can do everything and Mary is the blogger looking for insight and education from others in her community? Is Martha too involved in her hobby of cooking and Mary is attending family home evening? What comforts me is that Christ responds to both women with such tenderness – showing empathy for Martha and support of Mary’s choices. As always we have so much to learn in how we must accept ourselves and others, spending quiet time and busy time just trying to be more Christlike in our day to day.

    • evictoria says:

      Pandora, what a marvelous insight! I see the Mary and Martha division in the dialogue above, but I didn’t see it until you pointed it out. Two perspectives, both valid, both in the service of God. There was no problem, no contention in their home until one view of a women’s rightful role tried to force her interpretation of right living on the other. Then Jesus had to speak in gentle reproach. Was the Savior really saying that Mary’s devoted interest in his words was intrinsically better than Martha’s work to supply him with food and a clean place to eat and sleep? Or was Jesus really telling Martha that Mary had the right to follow her own spiritual path, and that it was wrong for Martha to try to compel Mary to do otherwise?

      • evictoria says:

        Having said that, I think “non-negotiable” is a brutal, heavy-handed word. I associate that word with warfare; with the tyranny of absolute power or blinding fear. It is not a word I can imagine the Savior using if he were speaking to his Sisters about the importance of family prayer, scripture study or family home evening. I think Elder Scott should remove that word from the final printed edition of the Conference talks.

  16. Oregon Mum says:

    When Sister Reeves gave her talk in April about the importance of daily prayer, scripture study and FHE in helping our families, I felt the Spirit tell me that I needed to make this a priority in my home. I work part time but am mainly a SAHM to three little boys, one of whom has ASD. My husband is never home until it’s about bedtime (on a good night) so it falls to me to implement those things. Simplicity is the key. We’re doing great on family prayer, so-so on FHE and the scripture reading needs marked improvement. But I really feel we’ve been blessed for making an effort. One of the best things that came from this prompting is that on the first Monday of the month we have a group FHE with other families with young kids. We rotate who hosts, who presents a lesson and who has a snack. We’ve done it for five months now and it’s awesome. We get ideas from each other and at the very least we’re ensuring that we have FHE once a month. I appreciate that Sis Reeves talks about feeling guilty that there is much on our plates, but I know for our family we’ve been blessed by trying to be better at prayers, scriptures and FHE. And I really appreciate that Sis. Reeves’ words where quoted in this conference!

    • Em says:

      I noticed that too! That to me spoke volumes about respect for women. Quoting a woman as a spiritual authority is far more meaningful and telling than simply saying “I respect women.”

    • Rachel says:

      Oregon Mum, there is so much that I like about your comment, but the thing I like most is that you were able to share your own (positive) experience in a sincere, loving, and hopeful way. Two other things I love include your sentence, “Simplicity is key,” and your observations and impressions from Sister Reeves talk–inspiring without guilt-making. Thank you.

    • klow says:

      Scripture study tip with young children…I had a jar with random scriptures in them on strips (colorful for visual interest) and we just pulled a scripture at dinner, read it, discussed it/explained it and that was scripture study for the family. Someone had done all the scriptures and I just had to photocopy the list…no pinterest back then, so probably you would have to invest the time to do that. Maybe a few friends could split that task…and scripture mastery scriptures would be a great start. They might be enough.

  17. weekonthecape says:

    Some of the beauty I find in Mormonism is that it asks us to wrestle with opposing good things. Agency and obedience, works and grace, mercy and justice are a few. Many churches today swing heavy with the pendulum usually to one side or the other of these opposing truths, because asking their believers to walk the razor’s edge between two tensions is costly. But Mormonism demands that we wrestle, and walk the razor. I love this article because it explores the balance between another opposing pair: striving to be perfect and accepting that we are not. The restored gospel supports both positions and so, as it’s already been suggested, we pray continually that the Spirit will help us walk the razor moment to moment, maintaining a balance that brings us peace.

  18. Violadiva says:

    As is normal for the human experience, I experience a wide range of emotions over the course of any given month, week, or even day. Some days I feel confident, strong, capable — those are the days when I could hear a General Conference talk about aligning priorities to schedule more consistent time for family prayer, scriptures, etc., and think, “I can conquer the world today! I cleaned out the refrigerator and organized the cupboards! Surely I can manage prayers and FHE.”

    Other days I feel vulnerable, over-worked and depressed. Those are the days I reach out for someone to tell me, “Your Heavenly Parents love you! They are mindful of you. Do not run faster than you have strength!”

    When I hear inspiring words about sharing the love of Jesus Christ with my friends and neighbors I get charged up and say to myself, “Yes! I am a witness of Christ! Being a missionary is WHO I AM!” but even the most motivating of sermons about family history work and genealogy cause me to groan inwardly and say, “oh….the dead can wait a little longer, my kids are living and they are hungry.”

    I’ve often thought that the wide variety of messages has to do with no two people being in the same place, emotionally, and yet being able to come to General Conference together and feel uplifted by someone’s words. There may yet be a different time and season for me to appreciate the other talks at some point down the road, but a very few favorites definitely stood out.

    I really liked the part of Elder Klebingat’s talk about managing your own spiritual and physical well-being. I can’t remember the last time we were encouraged to begin an exercise program and have a healthier diet! By contrast, some who may be very sensitive about their food or fitness may have been very discouraged by those same remarks. Along with that, the process of self-examination laid out by President Uchtdorf in his talk, “Lord, is it I?” felt very poignant, reminding me that my salvation is my own to work out.

  19. Spunky says:

    Brilliant, as always, Heather. I agree whole-heartedly Re: “…. but all those tasks usually fall on the woman’s shoulders.” Love my hubby, but FHE, family prayer and sometimes even church wouldn’t happen if it weren’t for me making it happen. It is exhaustive– as the one who manages the homework, encourages the vegetable-eating, makes sure the school and after-school needs are met, having the task of getting everyone to participate in FHE/scripture study often makes me feel like a nag. It sometimes makes me resent the relationship that “Dad” can have with the kids because he isn’t the one keeping everyone on task. Last week, even though we have and generally follow the FHE job chart, my youngest said, “Lets go out for dinner!” So we did. Because I didn’t prep the special FHE dessert (read as: last minute shopping for the person who didn’t plan the dessert), prompt the lesson prep and remind about doing the “spiritual message”… and I really wasn’t in the mood to clean it all up anyway.

    But back to the post: I’ve not listened to the entire conference yet, but I sort of fear doing so. I really enjoyed the General Women’s Meeting, and fear losing the spirit from that by listening to things that help to make me feel spiritually and religiously inadequate. And though I enjoyed Wong’s talk, and I appreciated his parallel to the story in Mark 2, but I was still…. bummed… I guess, as the only female in his parallel was in a support role, and I would have liked him to include a strong sister missionary doing some of the active work.

    This is probably the thing that burns me out about all of these extra “support” roles (read as: I’m the one who does it) ; because when these jobs are seen as “supportive,” rather than active, we under-value, and over-assign “support” tasks because these tasks are presumed to be secondary, and therefore easier than “active” “presiding” “work.” But clearly in family scripture study and FHE, this “support/co-coordinator” role is the one that makes it happen.

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