Friday, April 11, 2008

To Lift Up my Spirit...

It is a gloomy Friday afternoon and I've been spending it watching news coverage of the Polygamist Ranch in Texas. The thought of all those poor children makes my soul ache yet I cannot tear myself away. My gloomy feeling is compounded by the fact that while watching I am exposed to the other news headlines which are equally, if not more, depressing.

How lucky I am then that this past weekend General Conference was so uplifting and filled with such timely messages. There were many good talks, but one in particular stood out to me and touched me with three specific messages. You can read the entire transcript here and I'll just share some excerpts and my thoughts on them:

"…Each of us must make an individual evaluation. First, we need to measure the depth of our gratitude for membership in the true Church of Jesus Christ. Second, we need to know by the power of the Holy Ghost in what ways we can do better in keeping the commandments.

"We know from prophecy that not only will the true and living Church not be taken from the earth again, but it will become better. Our lives will be transformed for the better as we exercise faith unto repentance, always remember the Savior, and try ever harder to keep His commandments. The scriptures contain promises that when the Lord comes again to His Church, He will find it spiritually prepared for Him. That should make us both determined and optimistic. We must do better. We can. And we will."

This quote was what first caught my attention, particularly that "it (the Church) will become better." As I mentioned the news headlines are all doom and gloom, full of evil, war, and economic woes - Aaron and I often joke "Where are we going and why are we in this handbasket." To be reminded that regardless of what happens in the "world" the stakes of Zion will be strengthened is so reassuring. I can't effect the whole world, but I can make sure I am aligning myself with the righteous force that will be strong regardless of the course of the world.

"…My sense of gratitude stems also from blessings to my family. It is the sealing power and our knowledge of it which changes and transforms our family life here and our expectations for the joy of family life in the world to come. The thought and the hope that I can have eternal relationships carries me through the trials of separation and the loneliness which are part of mortal existence. The promise to the faithful in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is that we may have associations and an expansion of families in the eternities. That assurance changes forever and for the better all of our associations in families.

"For example, I am at a stage in my life when, because of great distances, I cannot come to know well grandchildren and, in time, great-grandchildren. There are also people who have never had the opportunity for marriage and parenthood who have the same yearning as I do to somehow be close to family. Because of the restoration of the knowledge of eternal families, we are more hopeful and more kindly in all our family relations. The greatest joys in this life center in families, as they will in the worlds to come. I am so grateful for the assurance I have that if we are faithful, the same sociality which we enjoy here in this life will be forever with us in the world to come, in eternal glory."

This was a personal insight shared by President Eyring directly to me (okay, and millions of other people at the same time). I have been feeling so anxious the past few months that our extended family is "missing" all the sweetness and joy that Tessa brings to us. In fact I was feeling like I was being selfish, although I am certain that this is the place we are "supposed" to be right now. So it was nice to hear that living away from family doesn't make you unrighteous (as silly as that sounds) as well as to be reminded of the eternal nature of family. This quote also touched on the issues of infertility that are often on my mind.

"…There is another improvement I am confident will come. Families across the Church are searching for ways to strengthen and protect their children against the evils around them. In some cases those parents are desperately trying to bring back some in their family who have wandered. I am confident that there will be, increasingly, a reward given by God for their efforts. Those who never give up will find that God never gave up and that He will help them.

"Much of that help will come from those called to serve in the Church. The spirit of reaching out will increase so that many will be as the young Bishop Thomas Monson was, inspired with practical ways to invite and encourage those who may, for a time, not recognize the blessings God has in store for them. President Monson to this day remembers people he labored to rescue when he was their bishop. My hope would be that all of us would have the confidence that God will guide us in reaching out, and back, to those God would have us bring with us as we go home to Him."

I won't go into much detail on this because I don't want to embarrass anyone, however it touched me deeply and was such a reassurance.

Another wonderful experience in this conference was the experience of the solemn assembly, held worldwide through the blessings of technology. I was especially touched to see the Aaronic Priesthood members in attendance at the Conference center stand to raise their hands in sustaining President Monson as Prophet.

Thank you for indulging me in these personal reflections.


Laura said...

It is such a blessing to be able to read the messages that the prophet and apostles have given us. I was really touched by the talk from Elder Ballard on Saturday afternoon to mothers. (Ironic, eh?) But it made me realize that there ARE alot of habits and things that I need to change or to make myself and my home better before I have children and lucky me...I get the time to do it! But, it just goes to show that we are all fed in one way or another, the things that we pray about before hand are most often answered in ways that we do not expect.

Laura said...

Also, I LOVED when he told the children to listen and help their mothers. It was very touching and so grandfather like, I love to see the personality of the apostles and prophet as they speak... precious!

fox family said...

I loved your thoughts. I loved conference, and I love Elder Eyring.