Life Infusions from Lives Lived Well
When we are young, it seems that we will live forever. We think there is a limitless supply of sunrises waiting just beyond the horizon, and the future looks to us like an unbroken road stretching endlessly before us. President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
I’m grateful for the knowledge of limits that make the precious even more so. I decided a few conferences ago that instead of taking notes on each talk about what I heard them say, almost like I was trying to record a talk for them, that it was foolish in this day of instant access to reinvent the wheel. Also, I was losing many of my own personal insights and take-homes from the process. I thought that I would limit my notes simply to what struck me in each message. So instead I began jotting down what I heard them say to me, comments that stood out for my life: lessons that I wanted to work on, ideas that I wanted to infuse my life with for more joy, success in my goals, and personal and family well-being.
Some of my favorites have been reposted time and again on Facebook and other sources as they had universal appeal. Some talks haven’t even been repeated in lessons at church or reposted in comments in online media that I’ve seen. This tells me two things: the talks are given for the edification of the entire world, and also now and again, for an individual.
There are so many gems, I could go through each and every one and share something that moved me. I was particularly struck by President Kimball who was asked once what he did when he was at a particularly dull or uninspiring meeting. He replied, “I don’t know; I’ve never been to one.”* I’ve learned acutely that what I get out of conference is intimately married to what I put into it. My attitude, my expectation and my mental and physical involvement in my own learning is what makes the biggest impact on what I take with me for the next six months.
Here is a short list of just a few of the ideas from six of the talks and a quote from each of the priesthood session speakers. I’ve been able to alter my thoughts, strengthen my resolve, and in some cases even change how I do things because of the opportunity we have to hear from these leaders.
Where Is the Pavilion? by Pres. Henry B. Eyring
This talk touched me deeply, as it has many. What struck me most squarely was that since the pavilions are of my own making, then quite logically, they can also be unmade. I felt a surge of hope that when I do feel far away, I am in control of that feeling. I can move. I have the ability and opportunity to get out from under it and into His light and warmth. He is set. The Lord cares deeply for my goodness. Just as Sheri Dew said in The Beginning of Better Days: “The Lord is saddened when we don’t trust he’ll take care of us.” And so would I be if my children didn’t believe I’d do all I could for their welfare.
We remove the pavilion when we feel and pray, “Thy will be done” and “in Thine own time.” His time should be soon enough for us since we know that He wants only what is best.
I’m grateful that I’m learning that the Lord’s timetable is the best and the ONLY one that matters.
First Observe, Then Serve by Linda K. Burton
I’m grateful for Sister Burton’s conviction and willingness to live it and love it. Still, I’m not exactly the sort of woman who wears t-shirts proclaiming it. I’ve never hosted a bumper-sticker or any identifying symbol of my Latter-day Saintness (other than a license plate holder as a Ricks College graduate, but I figure no one BUT LDS folks know what that is!) So her public badge of ‘I’m a Mormon’ touched me. Perhaps I can do more: use more words in my conversation, share experiences and WHY I feel that way, which is because of my beliefs.
A few weeks ago, I was hurried and frazzled, with too many to-dos on my list. I had hoped to go to the temple that day but felt I was just too busy. As soon as that thought of being too busy for temple service crossed my mind, it awakened me to what I most needed to do.
When it is inconvenient is when I probably need the temple the most. I’m terribly guilty of this, and hope to do better this year.
Learning with Our Hearts by Elder Walter F. González
I’ve mostly always been a logical thinker. Faith to me has never been a gift but a struggle. Therefore, when I hear talks that use science and imagery that resonates with my particular preference for secular examples, it often sings.
Today, surrounded by so much information, we might think that navigating millions of web pages will give us all that we need to know. We can find good and bad information on the web, but information alone is not enough. God has given us another source for greater knowledge, even knowledge sent from heaven. Our Heavenly Father can give us such knowledge when we navigate the celestial web in our hearts and minds.
He said that we can access the spiritual web. I loved that. One of my biggest hopes for the eternities is rooms and rooms filled with books that I can absorb in an instant.
He used one of my favorite examples (and quotes) from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. The fox in the story shared his secret with his friend, the little prince. He said, “Here is my secret … : It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
I’m immensely grateful that the Holy Spirit is the source of ALL truth, secular and spiritual. Like a conduit that expands from heaven to the earth, I can be infused with light and truth and knowledge through invisible means. My spiritual search engine will never fail or give me incorrect responses. How empowering that is.
Because I Live, Ye Shall Live Also by Elder Shayne M. Bowen
He spoke of a sister Ramirez. Her faith was great, even before baptism. She said, “I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that it is true. I have felt a great weight taken off of me, and these are tears of joy.” How often do I allow my weights to be lifted? Do I acknowledge the power or take advantage of the priesthood blessings that have that ability? Mostly I’d have to answer I do not. I go on my merry way and I am diminished because of it. So, I’ve asked my husband for a blessing, which he was honored and humbled to give. I’ve had only a handful of them in my life. It calmed and reassured me in a difficult task. It infused me with hope and patience and inspiration for a difficult conversation. I am grateful for the knowledge that comes not through fact or even always through experiences, but through the power I was instructed to receive at my confirmation, and to ever after live worthily to partake of.
Protect the Children by Elder Dallin H. Oaks
I thrilled to the candid and unfiltered instruction, proclamation, and declaration of Elder Oaks. I loved his warmth mingled with caring as he begged us to protect the children, those who are here currently and those who are on their way.
I speak from the perspective of the gospel of Jesus Christ, including His plan of salvation. That is my calling.
As it is indeed.
The First Great Commandment by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland
I would be remiss if I didn’t touch upon Elder Holland’s historic comments. He has a way of getting to the heart of the matter, of getting to my heart. Even when my heart was the hardest, and I didn’t want to hear anything spiritual or be touched, he could slip through the cracks of my self-imposed dungeon. Quoting John who was speaking to Phillip he said:
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
I have generations of Mormon blood. I have been with the doctrines, the ideas, the covenants and the principles for decades, and yet at times I still feel like I “know Him not.” How easy it would be then for the disciples who knew him only for three years to wonder if their path was the correct one. I had to ask myself, “Do I know the Lord?” I’ve tried to serve Him, His people, His church all my life, and yet do I really know him? I couldn’t answer that confidently even now. There is so much to learn, so much to know, so much to explore. I am grateful for the opportunity, the nudge, to strengthen my knowledge and understanding and to ask myself, “What now?” How do I adequately become a disciple? Sometimes, questions are the best answers.
I love that we, as sisters, can listen to the Priesthood sessions. I gained much from the insights and instruction to our brethren holders of it. Just a few quotes that I particularly enjoyed without commentary. (Each could be a whole paper on its own!):
Brethren, We Have Work to Do by Elder D. Todd Christofferson
In their zeal to promote opportunity for women, something we applaud, there are those who denigrate men and their contributions. They seem to think of life as a competition between male and female—that one must dominate the other, and now it’s the women’s turn.
Be Valiant in Courage, Strength, and Activity by Bishop Gary E. Stevenson
There will be times when you, like John, will have to demonstrate your righteous courage in plain view of your peers, the consequence of which may be ridicule and embarrassment. Additionally, in your world, skirmishes with the adversary will also be fought on a silent, solitary battlefield in front of a screen.
Beware Concerning Yourselves by Elder Anthony D. Perkins
The twin guardrails of deep personal conversion and strong family relations help keep us on the heavenly highway.
The Joy of the Priesthood by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Today we are assembled as a vast body of the priesthood. It is our sacred joy and privilege to serve the Lord and our fellowmen, to commit the best that is within us to the noble cause of lifting others and building the kingdom of God.
Help Them Aim High by President Henry B. Eyring
There are other ways to reach out; you are already engaged in many of them. . . . What matters is not the activity but the feelings that come as you do it.
See Others as They May Become by President Thomas S. Monson
When I look at someone that way, I have the capacity to bear my testimony to him in a way that can touch his heart….
We have the responsibility to look at our friends, our associates, our neighbors this way. Again, we have the responsibility to see individuals not as they are but rather as they can become. I would plead with you to think of them in this way
I’m truly excited (and I haven’t always been) for the next conference. I’m grateful for the infusion of testimony, ideas, concrete helps, and how-tos as well as invisible inspiration and simplicity that is the instruction from our leaders.
*From a Church Educational System meeting, June 30, 1989; quoted in Gene R. Cook, Teaching by the Spirit (2000), 140. Image credits: lds.org