Vacation from Church

by Kelly Ann

Growing up, General Conference (and even Stake Conference) was vacation from church.

They were weekends my mom would let me go camping with my non-member dad.  As a teenager and probably in relation to some Young Women personal progress goal, I tried to encourage my mom to at least go to the Sunday morning session (although as an adult, I can see why she didn’t want to deal with four young kids by herself for two hour blocks only to feel picked on as a twice-divorced women).  I remember sustaining Howard W. Hunter and Gordon B. Hinckley as prophets and trying to remember the major points the few times I went in high school.  At BYU, I regularly listened to all four sessions of general conference for the first time, even taking notes, granted usually sitting in my bed half asleep listening to the radio in my dorm room.  Although a few times, I attended the sessions at the conference center or ventured to the ward building to maybe stay awake for a whole 2 hour chunk.    I liked to say that the Spirit was relaxing …

In recent years, with the advent of high-speed internet, I have usually tried to watch a couple sessions online and read the remaining talks.  However, my enthusiasm for conference has died since President Hinckley passed away.  I’ll be honest, I’ve never really liked President Monson.  In the past year, while being less active overall, I have only scanned the talks instead.  But as I am trying to give the church a second chance (committing to attend the family ward and being honest with my Bishop regarding how I have changed and address my doubts), I decided to listen to conference this weekend with a desire to believe …

And I actually mostly enjoyed it.  While I could majorly pick on a few talks and I still don’t really like President Monson, there were a few apostles I felt were inspired and gave messages that benefited me.  I loved the messages I heard about love, repentance, the spirit, personal revelation, and hypocrisy.  The teaching of basic concepts really was refreshing.  Perhaps I have been too bogged down in the details and doubts acquired through all my readings and experiences and forgot the good the church teaches.  I am reminded of a member on my mission who only attended church for General and Stake Conference.  He had legitimate concerns that the local leadership was questionable (a few people had been excommunicated).  But he enjoyed listening to the general messages that built his faith.  Now don’t get me wrong, I would like Salt Lake to address some of the specific concerns I have including issues of history, doctrine, culture, and practice but for at least a little while I was touched and I felt my faith increase.

My favorite quotes were:

“There will always be some intellectual crisis looming on the horizon.” Tad M. Callister

“In the last days, … even the very elect could be deceived.”  Jeffrey R. Holland

“Eternal principles can be lost in the labyrinth of good ideas.” Dieter H. Uchtdorf

“You must authorize the Spirit to teach you.  Be aware that strong emotions can overcome the spirit.”  Richard G. Scott

“The joys come from putting the welfare of others above our own. That is what love is. And the sorrow comes primarily from selfishness, which is the absence of love.” Henry B. Eyring

And of course my favorite announcement was the temple in Southern Chile.  Our focus as missionaries was to prepare the people (both members and investigators) for it.  Even though I still have major doubts about the church, I consider the temple a huge blessing to the local people.  It makes me want to be able to go back.  Maybe I’ll eventually get there.  I guess that means by current “vacation” needs to end …

I guess I’ll see how giving the church a second chance goes.

I know conference is a common theme in the bloggernacle right now.  By Common Consent, Times and Seasons, and Feminist Mormon Housewives all have multiple summary postings.  However, I’m interested to hear your thoughts from this weekend even if it was a vacation from church.

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8 Responses

  1. Kiri Close says:

    I really love this post, and how awesome it truly is that you have been genuinely questioning your life in the church, and vice versa–for me personally, putting myself (in relation to the church) on trial helps me move closer to the Savior. I can feel how your approach is similar to my own in really glorious ways.

  2. D'Arcy says:

    Thanks Kelly Ann. I echo your thoughts too. I actually watched all four sessions. Whenever I tell people that, they raise eyebrows because I am not active in the church at all. I think one of the main reasons is that as a single member over the age of 30, I just haven’t felt a comfortable place and the doom and gloom that looms around the over 30 ward is a type of sadness I don’t want in my life.

    However, I did enjoy some of conference. I had some of my same reoccuring issues, but on the whole, I felt warmed with talkes of Jesus and his love. And I thought, you know, i want to love Jesus and follow him, just like I love learning about Buddha and following him. I really struggle with the literalness of the gospel, but if I take many things as simple stories to help my life, then I can embrace a lot of good things.


  3. Caroline says:

    Kelly Ann,
    In my family, GC and stake conference were also vacations from church. I personally still uphold that, but my husband likes to go and watch on T.V.

    Thanks for those quotes. I particularly like the Holland one. Brings a nice element of human fallibility to our leaders, an element which we are so often sorely lacking.

  4. Jalina says:

    This post reminded me of the first time I attended conference at 18. We grew up far from a chapel, so we never attended stake or general conferences. When I went to college I went to my first conference – and it was electric. The past 6 years I’ve really drifted away from conference (as I did again this year) but this post really reminded me of how I felt that first time and how much I want to go back to conference – all the sessions.

  5. Zenaida says:

    It was not even on my radar this year. 😛

  6. Kelly Ann says:

    Kiri, It has been painful but I do feel more refined. Every day is a trial and I just take it one day at a time. That meant watching conference but sometimes it means swearing at the church.

    D’Arcy, I think we are alike in many ways. I no longer feel like I have to embrace everything to embrace the clearly good things. I do wonder though if my doubts will ever be resolved. So I just embrace what I can for now.

    Caroline, The evidence of human fallibility in our leadership is something they seem to be acknowledging. Elder Bednar shared a few lines regarding how his attempts at FHE routinely failed in his home with such lines from his sons during prayers as “he is breathing my air.” I think it is great they are no longer portraying themselves as perfect because it gives me a chance to see them as people.

    Jalina, I didn’t actually make it through all the sessions but I got a good dose and remembrance. Is it enough to carry me? I’ll just have to see.

    Zenaida, sometimes I think I have been flirting too much with the church and that I should let it fall off my radar as well but I am glad it was uplifting for me.

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