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Sunday, April 03, 2022

Conference Weekend

This year's general conference opened with these words a prayer offered by Elder Jose L. Alonso of the Seventy, and it was this thoughtful prayer that really stuck with me through all the sessions of conference that I watched (which...was two, but 2/3 ain't bad; Phoebe and I went upstairs to have a nap during the second session, at the behest of Andrew and all the kids at home (some kids were over watching at Grandpa's place so didn't weigh in on the decision) and we slept for nearly three hours and, honestly, I have no regrets). 

Anyway, Elder Alonso's prayer:
We are so grateful for having living prophets, seers, and revelators. We love them and we pray for them and we support them. We are so eager to learn from thee by the spirit and through the voices of those who will address us today. We pray for them to receive inspiration and great joy. We want follow thy will and we need thy help to remember those words that we will receive today, but mainly the impressions that we would receive by the Holy Ghost...
The emphasis is mine. I was reminded of a lesson I had years ago where the instructor mentioned having such a powerful experience in general conference, feeling like every talk was fine-tuned to be precisely what she needed to hear, feeling like her prayers were answered very actionably, feeling like she finally knew what she needed to do to handle whatever it was she felt she hadn't previously been able to handle. 

When she revisited that session a few years later, however, she couldn't see how she had gotten those impressions since the talks, which she so distinctly remembered being specific to her problems, weren't at all related to what she remembered. Her point was that the inspirations and impressions she got during conference were more important than what words were said. 

I believe this is also the case while reading the scriptures. Naturally, the words are good. But the impressions are often more important than the seemingly obvious meaning of the passage.

So, I liked that opening message. 

*****

For FHE this week...or last week...I honestly cannot remember...we discussed our favourite scriptures. I am not sure that I will remember everyone's answer. 

One scripture that I chose to share was Romans 8:38–39:
38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

39 Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I think that it's important to remember that there really is no person or institution—other than yourself, and even that is tricky because I don't know how much our actions change how God feels about us (other than, like, the fact that they don't)—that can measure, dole out, or rescind God's love. 

I think sometimes we think that we can control how much God loves us through our actions (we can't). I think that sometimes we can feel distant from God, though, but I think that's often a Jacob and Esau situation (which has become one of our favourite scripture stories to study this year), where Jacob went away because Esau was (understandably) very, very angry with him, and he stayed away for years—decades even—and when it came time to return home he figured that Esau would still be angry with him over whatever happened decades ago and instead Esau was ran to embrace him. 

Like, Esau had just been chilling at home, living his own life, no longer bent out of shape over the silly rivalry with his brother...while Jacob was still cowering over his brother's anger. 

Granted, they couldn't hash things out because there were no telephones or email. It's no like they could just check in one each other. But, still.

My point, I guess, is that sometimes our own anxieties are what make us feel distant from God—or distant from other people—but it's highly likely that in reality we're very lovable and God—or, you know, a particular person we're sure has been sitting around hating on us for decades—is really ready to run and embrace us when we're ready to show our faces. 

Perhaps none of that was very eloquently put. 

That's not how I explained the scripture during or FHE lesson, and I don't know if I did a good job of it, but it's how I feel like explaining it now.

Anyway, after I finished speaking, Alexander was very quick to announce that his favourite scripture was Moses 1:39, which he then yell-recited at the top of his lungs, "FOR BEHOLD THIS IS MY WORK AND MY GLORY—TO BRING TO PASS THE IMMORTALITY AND ETERNAL LIFE OF MAN!"

I can't remember what everyone else said. Benjamin talked about Job. Zoë shared another scripture we've been memorizing this year (probably Moses 7:17–18). Rachel and Miriam and Andrew each shared a scripture, all of which related very nicely together.

And then we took a little stroll over to Grandpa's house for a surprise visit to ask him what his favourite scripture is. We caught him in the middle of making dinner for himself, but he invited us in, anyway, and the kids showed me all the fun things they've been helping Grandpa do around the house—hanging pictures and so forth. The kids got out paper and crayons to draw with (and I don't think I remembered to make sure they tidied them up before we left because Phoebe needed a diaper change just before we left so I got busy taking care of diaper stuff and...my brain doesn't work). 

Anyway, we finally managed to ask Grandpa what his favourite scripture was and he said, "Well, I think that would have to be Moses 1:39. For behold this is my work and my..."

Alexander melted with glee, and from the floor mumble-exclaimed, "That's my favourite scripture, too!"

*****

I've seen a lot of chatter about Elder Renlund's Heavenly Mother talk, given in the women's session (during the Duke/UNC game; Duke lost; very sad), wherein he mentions that seeking greater understanding “is an important part of our spiritual development, but please be cautious. Reason cannot replace revelation. Speculation will not lead to greater spiritual knowledge, but it can lead to deception or divert our focus from what has been revealed.”

I know he was talking about the fact that we don't have a lot of facts about a Heavenly Mother and that we can't demand facts to be prophetically revealed. And I'm actually fine to sit with that, to sit with the knowledge that (a) the impressions we receive from the Holy Ghost are perhaps more significant than what's on the page or what's uttered over the pulpit, (b) that no one can separate us from the love of God, who we really (also) know very few facts about (or how the concept of Heavenly Mother aligns with God—a counterpart, a partnership, etc.), and (c) that seeking knowledge is part of our spiritual development.

I'm sorry for those who felt hurt by his remarks. I felt like they were offered in love, even if they were imperfect words (which...they were...because I believe those are the only words that people have to offer, even people I consider to be prophetic or inspired (and I have scripture to back me up on this belief)).

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