Tuesday, April 5, 2011

(Semi) Personal Thoughts on General Conference

by Tamara Passey

I do two things when I watch General Conference. (Okay maybe more than two if you count helping a five year old stay reverent for hours.) First, I listen for ideas that come to my mind in relation to what is being said. Ideas or thoughts that usually nudge me in a direction I need to be going. Of course I pay attention to the suggestions and counsel of each talk, but I’m usually on the lookout (well, in an internal hearing kind of way) for how to apply it personally to my life.

The second thing I do is pay attention to anything I hear that, (how do I say this?) doesn’t sit well with me –at first.  Are you gasping? Yes, I have heard things from time to time during General Conference that AT FIRST I didn’t understand, wondered why it was being said, or most often, made me uneasy because I knew I needed to change. *sigh* (If you know me and my faults, maybe you are thinking how I could be ‘uneasy’ through all of conference!) Anyway, what I’ve learned to do with the messages, sometimes a sentence, that get my attention –is hang on to them. I make them a matter of prayer. I ponder them. I reread the talk to make sure I understand the context. I take an honest look at why I feel the way I do. I am humbled by how many times this has helped me change. In needed and important ways.

So this post is not going to detail my weaknesses or divulge all my ah-ha moments –blogs are personal, but not THAT personal. But I did want to share what I was thinking during Elder Christofferson’s talk and I thought that having some background—it might make more sense.

If you didn’t see it or hear it, here it is.

Around the 2.40 mark he says this,
"There is an attitude and practice we need to adopt. . . It is this: willingly to accept and even seek correction.”
Did you catch that? EVEN SEEK correction? Yowzers! I’m sure I looked calm sitting with my family, but I got shaky at the thought of seeking correction, you know what I mean? My thoughts raced along something like this. “Oh, I can accept correction. I know I need all the help I can get. Wait, did he just say, SEEK it? Isn’t that asking for trouble? I mean if I go asking for correction won’t I have a whole lot more criticism/advice/suggestions than I can handle? I don’t see why I have to seek it.” 

So there is it was. One little phrase inside a sentence that had me fluttering with protest. Once I realized I was resisting it, I quickly made a mental note, and followed the pattern mentioned above. By sundown of that day, I had a new thought.
            “So why are you worried about seeking correction? Isn’t that what you do with your writing? You want your writing to be the best it can be so you ASK for help, you want people to critique it.”
            Of course, asking for correction about the way I live my life might be a little harder. But eternally more important.

So I’m grateful today for my love of writing and the hard work it takes to get better at it, and how that process has helped me be a little less scared at accepting and even seeking correction in real life (you know, because writing is all make believe!) And I’m sharing this today because I thought maybe some fellow writers out there might be able to relate.


  1. That was one of my favorite comments! It reminded me of Ether 12:17 where we are told that the Lord will show us our weakness so that we might be made strong. It's always a bit painful to be shown weakness but I figure in the end it is worth it if I come out that much better and stronger.

  2. I know what you're talking about. Those comments or talks that make you feel uncomfortable because you know it's an area you need to work on. But you're denying it, justifying it, whatever it may be to not accept a change that needs to be made. When we do accept it though, amazing growth happens.

  3. I realized several years ago that when listening to a church sermon, whether it be a General Conference talk or a Sunday School lesson, that when I find myself saying "So and so should really listen to this!" in reality I am the one who should be listening. I view it as a red light telling me to stop and pay close attention because there is something being taught that the adversary does not want me to hear.

    This has been so helpful to me--though very painful at times. The best lessons are always going to be the hardest and the most painful and most assuredly, the ones we will be the most grateful for down the road.

  4. I am a HUGE conference nerd. just huge. And I sit there and cry and cry and cry through all the talks. Especially this time. It seemed at some point almost every one was talking to me and hitting me directly.

    I'm so grateful for the opportunity to become better. Thank you for this post. I needed it.

  5. Sierra - love Ether 12:17
    Ruth - yeah - i don't know why we resist change so much!
    LisaAnn- I hadn't thought of it that way (about someone else needing to hear it), good point.
    giddymomof6-we're cryers at our house too. at least one box of tissue is mandatory.

  6. I love the thought of being a conference nerd. I think I am one, too.

    Tamara, loved the post. It's exactly the reason we need to STUDY DILLIGENTLY the May Ensign when it comes out. It's so easy to let those important things lose their intensity in our hearts (and our brains). I think also I'm going to do more actual listening of the talks online, and not just reading them, because the way they "speak it" really brings the spirit.



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