Twice a year, the internet explodes with #ldsconf – Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and other social media platforms are inundated with quotes from leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As of right now, there are over 33.7k tweets about General Conference (and those are just the ones that have been tagged with the hashtag), and we’ve still got three 2 hour sessions to go.
I love General Conference for loads of reasons, and thought I would share just a few here on APG.
First of all, as a member of the Church, I believe in living prophets and revelators – men called to speak in the name of God in this time, to clarify doctrine, offer counsel, and to lead and guide Christ’s church on the earth. In short, God still speaks, and General Conference is a time to gather and hear the word of the living God specifically for this day. You hear references to Twitter and Instagram in the same breath that you hear about Daniel in the lion’s den and Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane because that’s what is relevant now, because it’s important to learn how to navigate a changing world while clinging to the Redeemer.
The counsel given is timeless – it is doctrine that is taught simply and powerfully, coupled with experience and great love for our Father in Heaven and for Jesus Christ. But it’s also incredibly relevant and poignant for all of us right now.
I also love the men and women called to lead the Church. They are imperfect, of course, but faithful and filled with charity. They come from different walks of life, different countries, different cultures. They each teach differently: Elder Oaks speaks with authority and the precision of a lawyer, while Elder Holland speaks with the eloquence and heart of a scholar and the fierceness of a bulldog (I affectionately refer to him as the Lord’s Bulldog – he is determined and loyal, and also a Yale alumn). President Monson’s voice is filled with iron and love as he teaches through stories and scripture. Sister Oscarson relays the message with grace and tenderness, but never fails to be clear about her love of the Savior and the sisters she has charge over.
Members claim to “not have favorites” among the Church leaders, but we always have those two or three men and women who never fail to speak directly to our hearts, who provide counsel and guidance that feels tailored to us individually (ahem, Elder Holland and Elder Christofferson are two such for me, as well as Bishop Caussé).
But the most important speaker is the Holy Ghost – the Spirit blossoms as these men and women bear testimony, communicating to those who listen truths that are eternal, surrounding the global audience with love and comfort in a world that feels more and more chaotic every day.
I love Conference because the lessons I learn are so crucial to my own growth, but also to my confidence in the Lord. I want to be a disciple, and when I listen and watch General Conference (and later study and review the addresses), I learn how. I am called to repentance, offered reminders of the Lord’s infinite and eternal love, and am given insight into the human heart. I receive direction for my life and for my role as a member of the Church and a Kingdom Builder. I am given specific, powerful insights on the relationships that I have with others, whether in my own family, my friends, or for those I am called to serve.
I love Conference because it reminds me that this is a global human family, that my brothers and sisters around the world are hearing or reading the same messages of love, repentance, obedience, and joy. That binds me to them in spirit and in charity – I am overwhelmed by the idea of my brothers and sisters feeling as I do. I am buoyed up by the knowledge that I am not alone, that I have a family of believers who stand beside me in worship and in work.
I love Conference because it reminds me of my blessings, that far outweigh my trials. It is a time to step out of the world and peer into eternity, to understand what the Lord’s plans are for His children. My understanding is expanded, my shoulders strengthened, as I head back into the world on Monday morning.
I love Conference because my questions are answered. I am filled with doubts and questions and concerns, and bringing them to Conference guarantees that I will receive answers. As a missionary, I was determined to bring a question to my first General Conference in California for each of my investigators, recent converts, and less active members we had been given charge over. I had been out three weeks. I was scared, overwhelmed, and exhausted. But I knew the Lord would answer. I brought over 22 questions to those sessions, and you’d better believe I received over 22 specific answers, complete with names that came to mind, scripture references, and insights into the Lord’s love for each and every one of those people I taught. Conference is a place of answers.
I love Conference because I learn more about who Christ is, and who my Father is. Every address, although tackling a different aspect of the Gospel, returns to the Atonement – to that sacrifice made for me, for you, for all of us on this earth. And as I learn, I am overwhelmed with love. Love for my Savior and for my Heavenly Father, but also by Their love. By their compassion, grace, and mercy. By their refuge and their guidance, by their example and power.
I love General Conference because the blessings abound. My cup “runneth over” and I understand that I am never alone. I understand that God is with me, He is for me, and He guides me. I understand that I am a child of God, with a future as bright as the Sun. I understand that I am forgiven, redeemed, and strengthened. I understand that I need not fear, that He has got me. I am given strength against the darkness and trials of the world, and light to keep my feet on the path.
I love General Conference because at it’s core, it is God speaking.
And He loves.
And He is real!