I always like to take notes as I listen, which usually consist of phrases or ideas people say that leave an impression on me, or lists of things suggested to do. But no long ago, I heard someone say that they don't write down what the speaker is saying, but what they hear the Holy Spirit speak to them as they listen to the speakers. There is a huge difference between the two. So this year, after listening to all the talks, I had 4 pages filled in my notebook, and only a few things were direct quotes. All the rest were things I felt inspired that I should do or think about specifically in the months to come.
It has been said that you should go into General Conference with a specific question you would like answered, because then you are most likely to get something out of it you really need to hear and that you can apply. My good friend, for example, wanted to learn about being a better mother and how to protect her two young toddlers, and there was a poem read that spoke directly to this question, providing an answer and steps she can take.
I can't say that I had a specific question in the same light, but there was definitely an overriding theme for me by the time it ended. Over the past little while I have been sitting on a notion of giving more than I have been giving. It all started with this quote, about six months ago:
"The bread in your cupboard belongs to the hungry man; the coat hanging unused in your closet belongs to the man who needs it; the shoes rotting in your closet belong to the man who has none; the money which you hoard in the bank belongs to the poor. You do wrong to everyone you could help, but fail to help." - St. Basil the Great
I read that quote and it stuck with me ever since. I have almost been haunted by it, convicted by it. When I bought myself a new piece of clothing to add to an already full wardrobe, or when I threw out leftovers gone bad sitting in the fridge, or when I thought of the savings hoarded away in the bank...we have never had an abundance, so to speak, but I realized I had more, much more, than so many others, and that I truly did have an abundance in some areas.
Then, this past Thursday, I heard a brilliant sermon by Beth Moore, all about true ministry. She spoke about how we are not truly ministering as Jesus did until our churches look a whole lot more diverse than they do now. We so often get caught up in the idea that church-goers should look like us and act like us, which means we forget that the saving grace of God is for all people, and that often it is the people so unlike us, at the very bottom of an emotional and spiritual pit, that need the light of Christ the most.
Then came General Conference. As I look back on my notes, things I felt inspired to change in my life, or start doing, they are all to do with this same idea. I need to get out of my safety bubble. I need to free my idea of what a Christian looks like. I need to share the amazing faith that I have that bring me such profound joy and happiness each and every day. I need to take the both the Great Commission given by Jesus, and the baptismal covenants that I made much more seriously. I need to live my life outside of my own little home, serve those in need, give to those in need.
In summary, this General Conference moved me - not just emotionally or spiritually, but in a real, physical way it told me to "get out and do something!"
I summed up my plan of action (the notes I made) into 9 different items, then copied them out on to a piece of paper which I have posted by my desk. I hope this will help keep this momentum going. Right now all these are, are ideas, and it will take a serious kick in the pants to get myself up and moving on these. The passion is definitely there for me, now I just need to follow through.
One other side note - because I am a music lover, I always take note of the hymns sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. This conference, there was an unmistakable theme:
High on a Mountaintop
How Firm a Foundation
Press Forward Saints
Let Zion in Her Beauty Rise
Let Us All Press On
There is no doubt all of these hymns capture passion, perseverance, moving forward, marching on to glory. They are all upbeat melodies, inspiring the feeling of pressing on. They all talk about Zion coming forth in glory, rising up like a standard to the world! They say to me that though hard times are ahead, take heart! be cheerful! We are standing together and we will be triumphant!