It’s my favorite time of year.
The days are getting longer.
There are colorful pots of joy all around my yard.
The citrus trees are starting to bloom.
Soon, we will be celebrating Easter–which is pretty much my favorite holiday (even though I love Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas, and I usually do a lot more to celebrate them with my kids) it is Easter that brings me hope and joy. And I love that Easter is a holiday completely centered on Christ.
Now…before I go on too much about Easter, another thing I LOVEEEE about this time of year is General Conference.
In case you are not familiar with General Conference, once every six months, we in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have a meeting where we hear from the Living Prophet, 12 apostles, and other leaders of our church. For me, General Conference is always just what I need to get through the next six months.
I have a few thoughts about two talks.
In Quentin L. Cook’s talk, he asks the question posed by Alma in the Book of Mormon:
“And now behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?” – Alma 5:26
I have been thinking about this question because, to be honest, I’ve been in a little bit of a funk lately. Sometimes, when I’m having depressing thoughts, it effects me in such a way that I begin to question everything: the purpose of my life (as in where I’m headed in life), my faith, and my testimony…Obviously, this isn’t good.
here’s the thing.
I have experienced a change of heart
My change of heart didn’t happen in one amazing or startling moment. Over time, my heart has changed. It has shifted toward the Lord. I can see that I’ve grown closer to the Lord over time. I was baptized when I was eight. My testimony has grown a lot since then, but I still have the same feeling about God that I did then. I know that He loves me. I know that I matter to Him. I know that I want to please Him.
Though there are times when I give in to many of my natural desires and weakness, I know where my heart is. I want to please the Lord. I want to bring him happiness and glory through my good decisions because I have felt so much love and blessings from Him.
I have felt to sing the song of redeeming love
Yes. This joy is also something I’ve experienced.
I have felt it when I look in the eyes of my children, and I see how much the Lord has blessed me–even though I, in no way, deserve it.
I have felt to sing the song of redeeming love when I have sinned, then repented, and have been forgiven. I know what that kind of deep, abiding joy is. I know that this is a miraculous feeling.
Sometimes I feel it [that love] and sometimes I don’t…Why???
When we can’t feel to sing the song of redeeming love anymore, Elder Cook suggests the possible reasons why:
“Many who are in a spiritual drought and lack commitment have not necessarily been involved in major sins or transgressions, but they have made unwise choices. Some are casual in their observance of sacred covenants. Others spend most of their time giving first-class devotion to lesser causes. Some allow intense cultural or political views to weaken their allegiance to the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some have immersed themselves in Internet materials that magnify, exaggerate, and, in some cases, invent shortcomings of early Church leaders. Then they draw incorrect conclusions that can affect testimony. Any who have made these choices can repent and be spiritually renewed.” – Quentin L. Cook
Now…as I read this, I have to amid, I don’t feel like I’m in a spiritual drought. Yet, I don’t feel as much happiness or joy as I’d like either. While Elder Cook’s advice is true and valuable, I don’t feel like actually applies to me right now. There is something else that is inhibiting my happiness, and I think that I found my answer in another conference talk given by President Uchtdorf.
One thing he said that I found especially interesting:
“So often we get caught up in the illusion that there is something just beyond our reach that would bring us happiness: a better family situation, a better financial situation, or the end of a challenging trial.
The older we get, the more we look back and realize that external circumstances don’t really matter or determine our happiness.
We do matter. We determine our happiness.
You and I are ultimately in charge of our own happiness.” – President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
Here is my answer. Why do I have trouble, at times, with feeling the joy – in singing the song of redeeming love–that I have felt in the past? It is because I get caught up in an illusion.
Sometimes this illusion is caused because I suffer from physical pain and weakness (hormones, anyone), and I mistakenly forget that I can find happiness and comfort in Christ, despite my weakness.
Sometimes this illusion is caused by boredom and ingratitude. I forget the blessings in my life, and become deceived that certain circumstances would make me happier.
But we are reminded, we matter; we determine our happiness.
If I determine my happiness, then what am I doing about it?
In the same talk, we learn to resolve to:
- spend time with people I love
- live up to potential–to be the person God knows I can be
- find happiness; regardless of circumstances
And the amazing thing is: when I take the time to do these three things, then I can answer the last question of Alma’s with a resounding Yes!
I’m so grateful for general conference. I’m grateful for the practical advice, reminders, and warnings that we receive from the Prophet and apostles. I’m grateful for their testimonies. I’m grateful for the Book of Mormon and how it has clarified so much of the Bible and doctrine of Christ. I know that this Gospel is the true and living Gospel of Jesus Christ. I know that Heavenly Father loves us and wants each of us to feel the joy of forgiveness and conversion. I also know that He wants us to remember it.
How do you answer the question posed by Alma? How has General Conference and the Book of Mormon been a blessing to you?
Check out more experiences with General Conference and the Book of Mormon at Jocelyn’s blog.