Guest Post: Reclaiming General Conference
Guest Post by Marie. Marie is an idea explorer, re-activated avid reader, wife, and mother. She has lived most of her life in Atlanta, dreams big, and searches out for the best-tasting food.
Yesterday morning I was reading through an older Ensign article from President Uchtdorf about preparing for General Conference. The impetus for this was that the last year has brought me some of the darkest times of my spiritual life. This is due, in part, to postpartum side-effects from my Christmas-Eve baby, but also to my spiritual shelf slowly becoming too full, this shelf becoming even more crowded with events involving the Church in the last month or so. I remembered how General Conference used to be an exciting time for me when I was younger, my view on life simpler and less nuanced; watching Conference used to leave me feeling spiritually uplifted and closer to God.
Over the years, however, much of that General Conference sparkle has diminished. It has been a bit like my experience with Christmas; once I found out that a certain Christmas figure wasn’t who I wanted him to be, the magic of my Christmas experience nosedived for a few years, until I found new ways to make Christmas meaningful again. The Christmas magic has slowly returned, but it looks differently than it did before. I’ve been wondering… can I do this same thing with General Conference? Can I actively metamorphosize my Conference experience from an uncomplicated, childlike one to a multi-faceted, but aware, one, that most importantly brings me peace and helps me talk with God?
In his article, Elder Uchtrdorf mentions how we’re entitled to receive personal revelation at General Conference. My take on this is that it’s not necessarily about the actual words the leaders will use or the actual messages they may be trying to share. It’s about a promise from God to me (and you); I show faith by tuning in to Conference and trying to find His voice, so I’m going to expect Him to say something meaningful to me. I’ve already applied this idea to how I approach my scripture study– when I get inspiration while studying my scriptures, much of the time now it really is unrelated to the words of the sometimes misogynistic and racist prophets, or the horrific and violent descriptions of battles, etc; rather, the revelation comes to me because of my faith in trying to find God, even in these imperfect (and almost exclusively) men and painful stories.
So, I’m going to try to take General Conference back for myself. If there is a part that breaks my heart (like President Oaks in October 2019, making a joke out of one woman’s troubled question) or something that I feel could have been better said in a much different way (much of Renlund’s April 2022 talk, ‘Your Divine Nature and Eternal Destiny”), and so on, I’m not going to passively allow that to take away from my experience. Instead, I’m going to actively work to reject that inclination. Why would I let their rough edges negatively impact my own experience with God? This is clearly easy to say and significantly harder to do, but if actually achieved, it would be so empowering.
So, regardless of anyone else and their relationship with God and their understanding of the Gospel, regardless of any words or messages given, if I approach this weekend expecting God to speak to me, or at the least to bless me with that old glow-y, warm feeling in my heart, I think I stand a good chance of having some kind of spiritual experience. At the end of the day, it truly doesn’t matter what words or ideas these men (and two or three women) may share because of the covenants I’ve made with God: He has promised to speak to me directly and teach me directly, line upon line. I’m going to attempt to take back this experience and make it my own by approaching it differently than I have before. If you have made or want to make a similar commitment, I certainly don’t know what that will look like for you and I pray for you in your journey to connect with God, whatever that looks like. For myself, I want to be excited for this weekend. I want God to talk with me. I want to strengthen my relationship with my Heavenly Parents. I’m going to try to reclaim Conference for myself.