My Life in Zion

The life and views of a Latter-day Saint in the 21st Century…

Archive for the tag “#ldsconf”

What I’m Expecting from General Conference

God the Father by Cima da  Conegliano.

God the Father by Cima da Conegliano, c 1515.

When people ask me what my favorite holiday is I always say Christmas, because y’know, it’s Christmas and it’s awesome, but then I always tell them it is followed by April General Conference and October General Conference. No lie. Members of the Church and nonmember alike get the same answer. This often leads to coworkers and friends asking if we actually celebrate these conferences in a liturgical calendar, which of course we don’t, “But,” I say, “we get to hear from living prophets of God, and that’s pretty awesome to me.”

Needless to say I’m “the religious guy” at work because of such answers, with many of my coworkers calling me a minister.

This evokes a lot of laughter from me.

But as the sun creeped over the horizon this morning and woke me up in our small apartment here in Mountain Brook, Alabama, I knew today would be a historic and memorable day. And it really does feel like Christmas morning. Not because there is a huge set of ornaments set up here in our home (unless you count the church paintings and the temple statues), but because it really is festive in the air for me! Today I will get to hear the word of the Lord from His mouthpieces. Imperfect men delivering a perfect message. There will be no physical gifts today, but instead there will be eternal gifts that will bless me and my family now and throughout the eternities. How could I not be excited for that?

I used to look forward to General Conference excited to hear the “next big thing”, the latest “revelation”, and monumental announcements. When President Hinckley announced the Perpetual Education Fund I remember sitting in my small chapel with my brethren in Jasper, Alabama and thinking, “Yep folks. That’s revelation right there. Awesome sauce.” When President Hinckley announced in the first Worldwide Leadership Training Meeting (not conference, but close enough) that missionaries would now be “teaching by the Spirit” I remember sitting back in that pew in the Bessemer Alabama Stake Center and thinking, “Yep folks. That’s revelation right there. Cool beans.” And every time there are temples announced, from Rome, Italy to Cedar City, Utah I’ve sat back and thought to myself, “Yep folks. That’s some mighty fine revelation there. Jesus rocks.” However, in recent years as I’ve matured and grown spiritually I’ve come to realize that the “big” announcements at General Conference aren’t where most of the revelations from the Lord come. The true revelation comes in pondering and applying the simplest of words spoken over that pulpit in each talk.

When Julie B. Beck gave her “Mothers that Know” talk, I knew exactly the kind of wife I wanted. And I have been so blessed to find her.

When Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin gave his talk “Come What May and Love It” I knew he was speaking directly to me.

When President Uchtdorf gave the talk “Your Potential, Your Privilege” I knew it was just for me.

When Elder Holland has given pretty much any talk I’ve known it was given directly to me. And so it has been with every talk each and every conference, from Elder Whiting’s “Temple Standard” to Elder Soares’ “Be Meek and Lowly of Heart”, they have all been just for me. As I’ve listened to them, watched them again, played them on my Gospel Library App while driving, and pondered them in the hours of the night I’ve come to find that every single General Conference talk has been applicable to me and amplified my spiritual life.

Of course I have my favorite speakers. But even the most random of Seventy who speaks on Sunday afternoon has prepared the words the Lord has inspired him to give.

Since I was a teenager I have always imagined the Lord attending General Conference casually, unseen of course, but close by as the Brethren and Sisters speak. It is His conference after all (as Elder Hales reminded us so beautifully just six months ago). He is there, and He will be with us today.

This General Conference I am expecting a lot. I’ve put in a tall order for the guidance I’ll be needing for the next six months. This will be my first General Conference as a husband to my dear and sweet wife. It is my first General Conference as an expecting father. And recently I was called to a calling which will require far more time, commitment, and resources from me than I currently feel I have. This General Conference I will be listening with a new ear and a new heart, and looking for things not just for myself, but for my family and for those I am called to minister to. In short, I’m expecting a lot this weekend. And I know I will not be let down.

I imagine God sits and looks down on us rather lovingly during these weekends. A few million of His children gathering to try and listen to His voice. There, from celestial glory, I imagine His perspective is eternal and the love He wishes to convey is unending. Perhaps His arms are even outstretched to show His affection for us. If only we could hear Him more closely perhaps we could always see Him like this, as our Father trying to help us get back home.

This weekend we will hear His voice and the voice of His Son.

It’s better than Christmastime here in the Way Household!

 

If you would like to join in and enjoy General Conference live this weekend or re-watch it at a future date you can do so by clicking here.

Missing General Conference

President Thomas S. Monson sits in the audience at the Tabernacle on Temple Square on October 4, 1963, moments before he was sustained as a General Authority and invited to the stand.

President Thomas S. Monson sits in the audience at the Tabernacle on Temple Square on 4 October 1963, moments before he was sustained as a General Authority and invited to the stand.

Fifty years ago today President Thomas S. Monson was called as the newest member of the Quorum of the Twelve. What a historic fifty years of church growth it has been!

As I’ve been looking at the above picture of young Elder Monson this morning my heart has been filled with mixture of great joy and also deep sadness over this upcoming weekend’s Semiannual General Conference.

This will be the first General Conference I will have not watched live since April of 2001 when I was in high school. Each spring and autumn since my teenage years has been like a holiday to as I’ve prepared mentally, spiritually, and even temporally for the upcoming General Conference and the opportunity to listen to and sustain prophets, seers, and revelators. When people ask me what my favorite holiday is, I usually answer “General Conference” and then proceed to tell them about what an awesome event that it is.

Starting a year and a half ago I started live- tweeting during General Conference using the #LDSconf hashtag on Twitter. To some this might have seemed like a distraction. But the opportunities it has given me to listen with new ears to the talks, and to instantly feel connected to my Latter-day Saint brothers and sisters throughout the world has helped me to gain greater insight into the gospel and even create new and meaningful friendships with people throughout the world.

But this year is different.

I have recently started a brand new job, and am preparing to be married in just two short months. In the days leading up to Conference I have prayed, and begged the Lord for ways to help me get my shift covered. I have offered my coworkers cold hard cash of $100 to take my shift (a double shift actually and 12 hour day) to pick it up for me, but to no avail. Working in a 100% commission job on a college football Saturday in Alabama isn’t exactly profitable. So I understand the lack of interest in assisting me.

Every year since 2001 I’ve taken a three or four day weekend to prepare for, enjoy, and then reflect on General Conference. But this year it just won’t be so. This year, instead of hearing about the new temples to be built (my guesses are on a new temple in Utah and one in Brazil, plus probably a couple of more) I’ll be selling cell phones in Alabaster, Alabama. This Conference instead of enjoying a lunch at the chapel with full-time missionaries during the World Report I’ll be sharing phone operating system suggestions with strangers on a showroom floor. No sustainings. No airplane stories from President Uchtdorf and no ear wiggling from President Monson. Just work.

If it sounds like I’m being melodramatic it’s because I probably am.

Yeah, yeah. I get it. General Conference can be DVR’d. “Most people don’t watch it live anyways,” you might be saying to yourself. “You can just read the Ensign,” might be a logical thing to say.

But to me it’s like I’m having to work on my Christmas Day. I’m missing Christmas Eve, and the opening of my presents. I’m missing my family and my friends.

General Conference just won’t be the same.

Last night as I knelt down to pray and I felt downright depressed. If Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh’s forlorn friend) had materialized into a real life human being he was the guy kneeling beside my bed. I began my prayer in such a sad sounding humdrum manner as to make Eeyore sound cheerful even.

“I’m going to missing Conference Heavenly Father,” I stated flatly. “Maybe it won’t be this way come April,” I lamented with the inflection of a jilted 13 year old girl.

God is rather patient with me I’ve come to realize.

I complained about my work shift. My new job. Feeling depressed. And everything else I could muster a murmur about.

And as I was about to say in the most reverent way possible, “Thanks for not helping me get that shift covered,” I paused as the Spirit spoke directly to me in my mind:

“You’re going to watch it Stan. I’m providing for you and your marriage.”

And instantly all of the other prayers I’ve offered recently about helping me in my job, helping me to prepare for marriage, and so much more came flooding into my mind.

Kneeling before my bed I stopped in silence, realizing that yes, I would watch the Conference Sessions. Probably even rewatch them each two times in the coming week. God was answering my other prayers and I was just too juvenile to realize it.

I felt guilty for complaining and being so forlorn, and I instantly began begging again to God, only this time for forgiveness of my sins.

This weekend I’ll miss watching live as our church leaders speak. I’ll miss the Tweets from my friends in Africa, India, England, and Utah. I’ll miss having lunch with the full-time missionaries (and this time my fiance), and walking around the park nearby my local chapel and observing the first traces of fall in the leaves.

I’ll miss those things.

But I know that I’ll get to enjoy, listen to, relisten to, and apply the teachings of modern day prophets and apostles in the very near future, even if I hear them via DVR and the internet.

Fifty years ago today Thomas S. Monson was called as an apostle. As I’ve looked at the picture above this morning I’ve thought of what must have been racing through his mind at that very moment right before he was called forth from the congregation. Did he have any idea where life would lead him? Did he have the beginning of a glimpse into what his life’s ministry would be?

Time flies when you’re having fun. And perhaps the funnest parts of life are serving the Lord.

I’ll miss hearing the words of President Monson in the morning. But I am thankful that God has answered my prayers. Perhaps I won’t make a single red cent tomorrow in Alabaster, Alabama selling cell phones. But who knows why God arranged for me to work there tomorrow? Perhaps I’m supposed to just be there to brighten someone’s day?

In any case, I have no problem missing General Conference as long as I know it’s what has been prepared for me by the Lord. Fifty years from now I’ll be able to look back on this weekend and tell my grandchildren how extremely heartbroken I was to miss listening to men and women of God, and I hope and pray it will instill in them a desire to always listen to a prophet’s voice. Or, perhaps I’ll get to tell them about the time I met a family that got baptized because I ended up working on a General Conference weekend…

One can always hope.

In any case I hope that you have a happy Conference Weekend my friends! I look forward to hearing how all of you enjoyed it.

Stan

If you’re not Mormon and somehow stumbled upon this post about how I’m a big ol’ complainer and LDS General Conference, I’m glad you did! I hope you’ll take the time to learn more about my faith. To learn more please just click here. You’ll be glad you did.

You Are Not Alone

We all feel that way some times.

Alone.

It’s an ugly word really. It even sounds lonely…”Alone”…”Alone“…”Alone“…I suppose if you say it in a dark and scary voice (like I just did in my head) it sounds even more sinister, like a demon of darkness of some sorts.

I know I feel that way often.

As the only active Young Single Adult in the Church in what feels like a fifty bajillion mile radius some times I feel like I’m on some sort of renegade mission to seek out, find, teach, and baptize people just to become my friends.

“Hi, I’m Stan,” I picture myself saying some times to some young lady while standing in the Walmart checkout line. “I know you don’t know me, but I’m a Mormon y’see, and would you like a copy of The Book of Mormon so that we can be best friends forever?”

I’m not that desperate, but I’m also not going to say that a conversation like that has never taken place before…But that’s another blog entry…

My branch is small. There are a few youth, and lots of older brothers and sisters, but no one in my age range except for two or three couples who are married and already have their “We’re Awesome Cause We’re Married Group” going on. And I hate to intrude. So most nights it’s me and my dog Brigham, which isn’t so bad because Brigham makes for great conversation, but even he is lacking some nights in the social arena.

I am grateful for the Church though, because despite the fact that the Gospel makes me the social outcast and anathema to a fair portion of the populace in small-town Jasper, Alabama, it also connects me to a word-wide community of Latter-day Saints. Paul told the Ephesians two millenia ago that they were “no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19). Being a Mormon makes you part of this great big happy go lucky family, and I like that.

Days like today, when we’re all united to hear inspired counsel from the General Authorities and General Officers of the Church, bring us together even more. Whenever someone asks me what my favorite holiday is I always enthusiastically respond, “General Conference!”  – Which brings a chuckle from most Mormons and great missionary opportunities from everyone else. – Millions of people strong, we are literally united in prayer, faith, praise, and fellowship as we commune in front of our televisions, sit in chapels, hunker over our computers, or peer at our smartphones. From the monolith which is the Conference Center we get to hear Prophets, Seers, and Revelators, and hear the words which our Lord would have us hear. That is truly awesome.

Today I didn’t feel alone.

As I tweeted General Conference today it was fun to not only be receiving answers to prayers via the speakers, but also read others’ insights on Twitter into the teachings we were hearing. It was awesome to be part of God’s covenant people and enjoy in the sacredness of the words we were hearing.

One of my favorite things to do during Conference is always jot down the Scriptures being read. If I don’t know the citation for the particular verse I’ll jot down key words and find it later. I’ve done it for years, and when I was an early morning seminary teacher I encouraged my students to do likewise. It’s not just fun, but educational, and I believe it is a great insight in to the things the Lord would have us be focusing on.

Today three references stood out, but I would like to focus on just one.

I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up.”

Doctrine & Covenants 84:88

It was shared multiple times in multiple talks referring to multiple scenarios today. And it touched me. It stirred within me a great burning testimony that those words are true. And it made me thankful for this great Church of which I am a part.

God lives. He loves us so very much. And we are not alone brothers and sisters. I am just glad that the Lord saw fit to have His servants share that with me (and you) so many times today.

Sometimes we just need to be reminded that we are not alone.

– Stan Way

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